Sunday, November 20, 2016


Have you ever judged someone?

Most of us know it's not a good idea to go running around, thinking that we're better than everyone else. But it seems quite possible that the reverse can be true about us.

Have you ever examined your life and wondered why everyone else is better than you?

It's a rather puzzling line of thought to take. Why do people like me? At first glance, the answer might be tricky to uncover. If you ask other people, sometimes they won't be able to tell you why. After all, how often do you look at someone and make a conscious decision that from now on, you are friends?  

Most friendships, it seems, develop from circumstances. Perhaps you have the same group of friends or similar interests and hobbies. Maybe, you attend the same church group or chess club. However, in my experience, friendships don't just appear. They take time to mature and solidify. It's not always a good idea to pour out your heart and soul the very day you meet. 

But there's often many reasons why we ask ourselves that question. Why does anyone even bother to take an interest in us? 
We think we're not clever or smart enough. We think we aren't good-looking, talented, funny, or even likable. We scour our mind asking why anyone would spend the time listening to our stupid puns or pitiful remarks.

But when we do that, we're dismissing the friendship and our friends. Friendships are not something we earn. Can I repeat that?

Friendships are not something we earn.

A friendship should never come with a price tag. If you have to somehow "measure up" to their criteria, then that's not a friendship worth having. 

Friendship is a gift. The fact that someone has given it to you is answer enough. As far as I know, most sincere individuals don't become friends with someone they despise. The reason people like you is because you're you.

It's not because you're talented or tell good jokes. That you can draw or write pretty well. That you're good at dancing or anything.

You matter to them because you make a difference in their life. And it's a good one.

Just stop with the questions, the doubts, worries, concerns. Just stop. Turn your focus outwards, stop worrying about yourself. In my opinion, all of this self-degrading introspection is an inverted form of self-interest. There are so many better things to think about, so many better things to actually do.

If we truly want to become a better friend, there are plenty of things we can strive for. None of them includes excessive worry about our self-image. It seems the more we reach for affirmation from others, the less likely we're going to get it.

In the end, we're no better or worse than anyone else. No one deserves to have a friend, any more than we deserve God's forgiveness. However, by grace of His love, we're all given an inherent dignity ingrained into our very being.

Just by virtue of being yourself, you are immeasurably valuable. We all have the potential to become a truly stunning image of God, both in fact and by example.

It's only in Him that we discover the true source of our worth. It doesn't come from how many friends you have, what talents you have, or where you live.

In Him, you find beauty and become beautiful. In Him, you find love and you become loveable. In Him, you find peace.

If you ever find yourself wondering why people would like a person like yourself, don't look in the mirror. 

Look at the cross and let your worries cease and your heart find peace.

You are priceless.

Sunday, November 6, 2016


Heh, so there's an election in two days.

Who knew?

How the time flies.

It's easy to let such things steal our peace of mind. I know I have given it the opportunity. It's honestly a lot like football. We each have our own personal team that we've grown up watching, we cheer them on, and cringe at the opposing team's score. I usually try to avoid getting too invested into the games, otherwise, I get drawn into the heat of the moment and start yelling at the screen along with everyone else. (which only happens when I watch it with my diehard, football advocating, extended family)

And if, horror of horrors, we lose, it would seem to be the end of the world. My evening is ruined; such a crushing blow to my sensitive heart it is to witness such loss. But, football aside, it seems anything within the political realm is stressful for me. 

To be perfectly candid, I observe and study politics like some of you might research the periodic table or the Spanish language. I don't know why I do, it's like playing trivia, checking data, latest updates, candidates, ethical implications. I'm always trying to get the right answers to discover a reason for hope. 

As if my hope should rest on political figures.

It's easy to be indignant and outraged when we see a circumstance develop that's beyond our control to change (especially since I can't even vote this election cycle).  But then again, perhaps we're missing the point. I don't think that politics is the greatest problem in this country (though it is definitely a pressing one), rather what I find most disturbing is the decadence it stirs up throughout society. 

It's like a firestorm, consuming the very fabric of civility and clouding solid judgement. Last I checked, Americans stopped fighting among themselves May 9th, 1865. Your neighbor next door is not your enemy, even if he does have a yard sign that you disagree with. What this country so desperately needs right now is not great leaders, but good people. 
The quality of our government is determined by the moral character of the people it governs. I find this quote to be especially pertinent.
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
-John Adams
 I'm starting to learn that you have to let some things go. If there is something completely out of your control, you just gotta leave it be. We have to remember to focus on our part of His plan. We're not just a lone voice speaking out against the darkness. If we let Him, He can take our best efforts and turn them into something far greater.

Throughout history, God has always used humans to fulfill His plan. Each step required the free choice of a human will to say yes. Mary's fiat could've been no. We all have an opportunity to make a difference in the world, however small it may be.

 Instead of simply crossing our fingers and voting, let's not forget to pray. One vote makes a small difference unless it is united with a greater movement. Our little prayers throughout the day might not seem like much, but they are timeless moments when we invite God into our lives and into our world.

And even if things don't seem to turn out for the best, remember that God includes human failures into his calculations. We have to realize that his primary goal is not our earthly prosperity, but our heavenly inheritance. Jesus didn't come to overthrow the Roman rule over the Jews, rather he came to start a spiritual revolt against sin. He came to lead us out of spiritual bondage into freedom.

That freedom is one that relies not on human frailty or political achievements, but the will to say yes to his grace. It's one that gives purpose in the midst of confusion, joy in every moment, peace during the hard times, perseverance in the face of persecution, and, in the end, it gives us a life worth living, no matter the circumstances.

That's a freedom worth fighting for. 

That's a freedom worth dying for.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Pilgrim's Prayer

Some days just seem to blindside us, leave us reeling in the dark, wondering why. I'm so exhausted physically and emotionally. Yet, somehow, this day still gives me peace and hope.

I found a prayer this afternoon, it helps so much to express what I feel stirring inside me. I needed to hear and pray it.

I had to realize that it's okay not to know everything, not to have it all planned out. To admit that, sometimes, I don't have the answers.

A Pilgrim's Prayer by Thomas Merton

My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end....

Nor do I really know myself,

And the fact that I think I am following Your will

Does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

 I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this,

You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust You always though I may seem lost 

And in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for You are ever with me, 

And You will never leave me to face my perils alone.


I helped write a song in Africa. It was right after an extremely heartbreaking moment, greatly distressing, to say the least. I'm going to end this post with its chorus. It's very simple but we don't always need to say much to truly be heard.

Even though I'm broken,

Lord, you take my hand. 

I will trust in You,

 Though I do not understand.

Have a good night ya'll, I'll see you next week.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Life We're Living

What are you afraid of?

At first thought, I might say pain or catastrophe. But when I think about it,

I'm afraid of being trapped.

We live busy lives, don't we? At this moment, instead of writing this, I could be (a) practicing my piano (b) doing school (c) working on my album (d) brainstorming my novel (e) editing a film project (f) practicing my dance moves (g) getting some family time. 

But no, I have to work first on this blog post. Not that I'm complaining about having to write, I'm just disappointed that I always leave it till the last minute. And I mean, Every. Single. Time.

The problem with all of this is that I can't focus. I can't slow down. I can't rest.

Yes, yes, I do get my sleep and I do take breaks. But I'm never at peace, do you know the feeling? 

And I've read the blog posts and I've told myself, I need to cut back. But how? Most of these are serious commitments that I can't just walk away from easily. Most of these have deadlines, most have other people involved. Eventually, the only things I can say no to are the things I want to do, but don't need to do. Or if I work on them, I can't focus, I can't always concentrate when I've got more important things to do. 

I don't think it's healthy. It chokes life out of creativity and poisons free time. But what greatly troubles me, is how it's inescapable. 

This wild, frantic pace frightens me because it helps me to forget. It's only when you're taken out of this cycle, that you realize how much you long to change.

To illustrate my words, I wrote this on my plane ride back to America from Africa.

"I'm supposed to be concerned primarily with eternal things and not worry about temporal needs, but how can I prevent myself from slipping back? From losing the lessons learned?"

When I stepped off that plane, I desperately hoped that I wouldn't. Yet, here I am, four months later, caught right in the thick of it again.

How time flies.

The curse of this society is that we're not allowed to think, to look deeper and farther than ourselves. All this amazing wealth and opportunities but we never have time for any of it! The things that truly matter in our lives never seem to have real consequences in the immediate future like so many other trivial things do.

We're always worrying about our test scores, unfinished novels, or the latest drama in our circle of friends, but there's not always the same concern for drawing closer to God or developing healthy friendships. What about our splintering families or widespread addictions to social media or gaming? Why do we always have to wait before figuring these things out? 

People always tell me how mature I am for my age. Sure, maybe I am, but by what standards? Yes, I might have some things figured out, but already I'm regretting that it's taken me this long already. Just looking back a couple years makes me marvel at the mess I was and the person I am now. I'm still a mess, it's just harder for me to see it now.

And we all are. It takes strength to look at yourself honestly and admit the flaws you see. That's why the cycle is so hard to break. When we're too focused on the world around us and the demands it places on us, we can forget to look inside and realize the need to change. 

We simply don't have the time to confront the problems within ourselves. We put it off for later when we have more time. Apparently, once we graduate college, find a job, perhaps get married, that's when we'll have the time. 

It's. A. Lie. 

Life doesn't wait for you to get your affairs in order so that you can start polishing it into shape. No one is going to give you that push to move forward, to get in gear. If you want to see results in your life, then you need to move! There's no time to sit around waiting for the right moment. The moment is now, not tomorrow because one day there will be no more tomorrows.

We've got to start waking up and start taking charge of our own lives because ultimately, we're the only ones who are responsible for them. This cloud of busyness is a drug that has the power to destroy our lives. But if we're honest, this way of life is the one we're most comfortable with.

It's comfortable because it distracts, it numbs. We're living lives of quiet desperation and we don't even know it. The way out looks hard, uncomfortable, or exhausting, but we weren't made to be comfortable. 

We were made to live.

And live well.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


"Emmanuel, how much for a Boda-Boda ride?" Sheila asked.

"1000," the young man replied, our soft-spoken guide on this foray. I stayed silent as my aunt continued.

"Ok, well, we're not going to be able to take one."

"Why not?" he asked, looking perplexed.

"We have no money with us."

"We shall have to walk then," he said easily. "Come on, I know a shortcut."


It's that time of year. In every direction, (at least where I live), there's forests with trees decorated in every color, mellow orange pumpkins, and dried up fields of corn. The fields are covered in mist and the temperature is just refreshingly brisk. I'm tempted to say that fall is my favorite season, when only a few months ago I was saddened by the thought of empty trees and the approaching winter.

It always makes me nostalgic, like I'm living in a field of memories or waiting on an empty bench in the park. It seems that no matter what season I'm in, that one is my favorite. Can I just say that I love all the seasons with their different temperatures and colors?

And yet, each time the seasons roll by, I find myself clinging to each one and viewing the coming season with apprehension. It seems that there's always a universal mistrust of change, we're comfortable with that which we are familiar with. Change means transition, which isn't always comfortable.

After all, fall heralds colder temperatures and raking leaves, which can be seen as troublesome to one's regular life. Yet, whenever the next season rolls around, it happens so gradually that we're surprised by the change and instead of it being an unwelcome burden, it's a pleasant change of pace. For, despite the many vivid, even dramatic changes there's something comfortable about it. There's something familiar.

That's the beauty of seasons, they're always changing time and time again, but they always retain that sense of the familiar. It's a good lesson for us to learn; no matter how many changes we undergo, we don't have to fear them. We don't have to be afraid, for despite every unknown that may come, there's always an known quality about them. We have everything we need to face the challenge ahead, we just don't realize it until the day comes.

In that vein, I should finish recounting the story above. It's taken from, perhaps, the most nerve-wracking experience I had in Africa. We had just finished visiting with our selected student's family and decided to skip lunch in order to get back before the others would start to worry about us. (Plus, they needed the food more than we did.)

In a stunning example of generosity, Emmanuel's grandmother picked for us an entire sack of peanuts, to show her gratitude for our visit. Then we started down the dirt road, in search of St. Kizito's High School.  Emmanuel was about 13 years old and spoke rather poor English. The plan, originally, was to catch a boda-boda (motorcycle) ride back to the school from some of the nearby men. Unfortunately, neither of us had any money on us, (we didn't think it wise to be carrying it through the Ugandan countryside), so we had to walk.

Emmanuel guided us along several dirt paths, before taking us off the wider dirt road to a path he said was shorter. My aunt and I hadn't the slightest clue where we were, so it was with apprehension that we followed him onto this route. I'm pretty certain we were the first mzungus ever to travel that path. Finally, after a good amount of walking, I spotted the most reassuring of sights: Our Lady of Guadalupe School. We're on familiar ground, we were getting closer to home.

Home. It's funny how we thought of it like that, even though we hadn't even been there two weeks. I came to realization that home isn't just where we live or grew up. It's where we are safe, comfortable, and belong. It's where we can dwell in peace and safety. It's where we are familiar with our surroundings.

That night, I knew that wherever I went, I could always carry that sense of home and safety with me. How I looked at the school as a sign of reassurance is how we should see God.

Before we left America, we had a sendoff Mass for us, with a special blessing. In that blessing, a certain line struck me.

"May the Lord be a staff of refuge for you."

A staff of refuge. 

That's what God is for us. No matter how far we travel from home, whatever the circumstance or situation, even and most especially in times of danger. 

The less of our strength that we can draw upon, the more we can rely upon him, our staff of refuge. Trust me, no matter where you go, it doesn't seem a foreign land, strange and unfamiliar, because you don't have to change. You can still cling to that staff tightly. In the grand scheme of things, there's nowhere we can't feel at home, because God is the same, regardless of one's location. 

As St. Therese would often say, "The world's thy ship and not thy home." We live in a foreign land, it is true, but instead of causing us discomfort, that should give us hope. It means that one day, our journeys will end, our struggles will cease, our pain will be given purpose.

It means that one day, we will find peace, comfort, understanding, safety, joy, and love. In short,

We'll be home.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sick Notice

I'm sorry folks, but I'm going to neglect posting this week. I've been a bit under the weather and my mind is unable to function properly. Hopefully, I'll be right back here for next week. I hope ya'll aren't too disappointed.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Covered in Light


That's how I described God four months ago. I think it's time for a status update.

Two days before leaving for Africa, I sat in an adoration chapel, praying and journaling about the trip before me. The weeks leading up to this, I had been plagued with the lack of God's presence. I didn't know where to find it or where to start looking. It was my hope and plan, that Africa would be the solution to all this. After all, where else is there a better place to find Christ then in the face of the poor?

But as the day drew ever closer, I was slowly coming to this realization. I wrote this that afternoon:

"All this time, I've been looking at Africa as the pivotal moment, the spiritual kickstart for my relationship with God. But it's not. I need to start that change now. Africa can be a catalyst, but not the fire. I need to provide that spark, Africa can fan it into flame."

I came to this conclusion, that if I wanted my life to change, then I had to be that change. No external circumstances are going to do that. God's grace can't change us unless we let it.  

Two days before this, I had a very long conversation with a good friend of mine (you know who you are ;). She stressed the importance of consistency in one's prayer life, carving time out of every day for God. At that point, my prayer life had been mostly purposeless and without direction. I knew I needed to change, but I didn't know how.  Thankfully, my friend also gave me some very practical suggestions on where to start.

The only problem was, I was leaving for Africa within the week. Due to the chaos of packing and planning, I hadn't the opportunity or willpower to put these suggestions into practice. After two flights and 24 hours of traveling, I found myself in Entebbe, Uganda. 

During the next two weeks, those suggestions would rattle around in the back of my head, but I hadn't the resources to make that happen. I realized I had to be patient; there wasn't anything I could do about it. Every day, we would celebrate Mass with the church packed with students. Every day was filled with prayerful reflection and small group discussion. Grace was at work in my life, I was beginning to learn to let go and give God room to move.

It began to seem like I was beginning to become stronger, more mature emotionally and spiritually. I tried to be brave and face whatever situation was before me, because that was where I was meant to be. My greatest fear came from myself, not from without. I was so afraid that I would forget it all, that I would go home and slip into the same routine I had been living for months. 

Originally, when we finally did return, it certainly did feel like that. Everything was the same, the grass was still green and so were the stoplights. It was so easy to idle away the day. But I knew that I still needed to make that change. 

Perhaps it was weeks or months, but I finally began implementing the plan, which I'm still trying to expand upon. I downloaded the iBreviary app and tried to make a morning offering every day. I tried to keep up on reading the daily readings every day, starting my day off with little snippets of God's word.

I joined a Bible study recently, to dive deeper into the scriptures and listen to God's word. As Peter Kreeft says, "Don't complain that God is silent, if your Bible is closed." That had always been one of my great doubts, why could I never hear God?

Even now, I don't really hear that whisper in my heart like I imagined it would be, but for the first time, I know that God is with me. And he wants to be there. 

On some occasions, I had felt like God had wanted nothing to do with me. That he didn't even like the sight of me attending Mass. It was a heinous lie, I know that now, I knew that at the time, but that didn't banish the feeling from my heart. 

Now, every day seems to be bathed with a divine light. I can't get God out of my head, he's always cropping up wherever I go. I pray more frequently and not just before meals. I try to remember that it's only through God's grace that I can accomplish anything. Nature has become even more glorious. Life is beautiful, and the sky is full of stars. 

I'm not saying this as if I've got everything figured out. Far from it, this is but one step ahead of where I was. There are still so many areas that I need to work on that I need to mature. Perfection is the goal and I'm not anywhere near close to that (nor will I ever be in this life). Life is a constant struggle. We can never relax or forget our eternal destiny while a battle still rages for our soul. If I'm not constantly pushing forward, then I'm only going to fall behind. 

But at this point in my life, it's never been more exciting or joyful. I can't help but love the fact that I'm alive, that I can taste the air and breathe. Drawing closer to God has made everything about him a joy to discover. I can hope and dream, I can love and laugh. I can be at peace because death is only a doorway into Eternal Life. 

And, of course, it won't always be this pleasant. The past often repeats itself, I might struggle over the same doubts that I had months ago. But I want you to know that you can overcome whatever it is you're facing. God has a purpose for all the pain, confusion, and turmoil. No matter where you are or where I am, whatever the circumstance, whatever the day, God is good. 

You and I, we're children of God. So don't be afraid, 'cause we're covered in light.

The Light of the Son.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


How many of you thought about Heaven this week?

How many of us thought about the day we're going to die?

Now, for some, that might be a rather morbid thought. Especially at my age. I mean, I'm still in my teens. The idea of mortality should be far from my mind. After all, I've barely reached the primacy of my youth! 
But, if we really want to enjoy the life before us, we have to remember the life ahead of us.

As some people say, "The days are long, but the years are short." 

Is that the life we want to live? Days filled to the bursting; full of activities, responsibilities, engagements, jobs, school. The years slip by ever faster while we're left wondering where the last six months went. 

See, thinking about Heaven and our eternal destiny isn't morbid, fanciful, paranoia, or a waste of time. Rather, it's a practical and very reasonable view of life. 

It gives us perspective. 

When you have a destination, each wandering footfall has a new purpose. We're no longer roaming aimlessly, we're headed straight for the light at the edge of the horizon. With that meaning in life, that constant checking of the way ahead, we can adjust and make corrections to the immediate path before us. 

Each moment viewed in light of eternity becomes part of that journey. The question to ask ourselves is, "What is taking our eyes off that path, that destination?"

Whether we're Christian or not, it can be so tempting, so easy just to brush it all off and turn back to wanton dissipation of our time. 

It might not be the things we do, but rather how many of them that we do. Life is so stuffed full of opportunities that we hardly know what to do next. But instead of making a decision, we often just take a little bit of everything and try to cram it onto our plate. 

Life isn't a buffet, it's a five-course banquet. Each new thing is meant to be enjoyed in its own time. You don't mix the cake, beans, soup, and chicken together so you can enjoy them all at once. 

Yet, at least for me, this so often seems to be the state of my life. There are so many different things I want to pursue: Piano, composing, writing, dance, school, etc. It gets to the point that when I'm working on one project, I can't help but think about all the other things I need to be doing. 

Why can't I relax? Why can't I just enjoy the moment before me?

Maybe, I just need to realize the limits I have. I need to understand that I can't do everything. And if I try to do so, I won't be able to do anything.  We're not meant to be split apart with our minds constantly planning ahead for the next task. We're supposed to focus, relax, and enjoy the work that God has given us.

I want to try an experiment and perhaps you should do the same. This week, I want to focus. I'm going to take one aspect of my life and really give it work and time. Perhaps, it'll be music or writing. The next week, I'll try the same thing, focusing on something that I need to work on and make it better.

We all need a purpose in our lives. We've got to remember the path we've been given. Our eternal destiny is meant to be in communion with God and all those with Him.

But you can't do that if you keep forgetting Him. We can't manage this thing called life unless we realize it only comes in finite portions. 

We should live our lives with a sense of urgency because we're living on borrowed time. Someday, we're going to have to render an accounting for all time wasted, good omitted, and slovenliness committed.

Let's not waste this opportunity we've been given. So remember,


And give it your best shot.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Real Peace

Have you ever felt rushed? 

Like you're struggling to juggle so many things, that eventually,

you can't catch em all.
Maybe this isn't the case for all of you, but I think it can be pretty prevalent in today's society. We have so many wonderful, amazing, fun opportunities laid out before us, but it seems like we're never really enjoying them. 

The problem lies in when the dream turns into a job and the hobby into a chore. 

We struggle just making the bare minimum on all our commitments, nothing's fun, nothing turns out just right. Even in we're making progress, that's probably because we've dropped a ball already, but just haven't noticed yet. 

We want to simplify. We want to make our lives do a 180 and turn into organized, punctual people, with plenty of time and plenty of peace. And that's a good desire, but maybe we're going about it in the wrong way. 

We often think we need to cut back on all things we do, simplify the number, reduce the equation. But what would happen if we tried to change how we do things, not what we do?

Let's be honest, are we really up over our heads in obligations and responsibilities? We usually tend to say yes, but is that really the case? 

I don't know about you, but I still have time to eat meals without shoveling the food down my throat. I still have time to chat with my family and friends and play the piano. I still have time, apparently, to read the news and check Twitter every 30 mins. 

If we have to time to do all these other things, why don't we for the other ones? Maybe the problem isn't having time, perhaps, it's making time.

There are very few "good" reasons to procrastinate. Yet, we seem all do it. It's too difficult to tackle right now, so we push it off until later, where its difficulty is only compounded, not reduced. Then, we find ourselves hitting walls and deadlines, with no time to spare. We get so stressed out and panicked, that eventually we just need to take a break. That, I think, is why we waste so much time online on innocuously useless things.

We waste our time on them because they help us forget our duties and responsibilities, our tasks and obligations.

They're stress relievers, but not peace givers.

We're almost like alcoholics who drink to forget our problems, but instead, we turn to a digital numbing agent for ours. Eventually, we all have to sober up and turn to the situation, which only becomes worse from the absence.

We need to remember that finding solutions and overcoming our daily obligations is the only way to find peace. Shoving them to the side, ignoring them, or dropping them entirely won't fix the root of the problem.

Just because we have to do something, doesn't mean we shouldn't want to do it. Procrastinating doesn't make us happy. Wasting time isn't fun. It's not, trust me.

At the end of the day, the thing that makes me feel the most peace inside, the most satisfied with that day, is that fact that I actually accomplished something. That I did what was required and expected of me, so that when tomorrow comes,

I'll be ready. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Never Forget

Today is 9/11. 
While the world may seem a dark place and only seems to grow darker still, this is but an opportunity to rejoice. We're meant to be torches of hope to the world.

Never lose hope.

After all, every flame needs a source; praying to God is like playing with matches.

You might just get burned.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Change the World?

All of us have dreams, don't we?

We all want to excel and succeed in life.
I always seem to be confronted by two incompatible beliefs, one optimistic, the other pessimistic. One tells me to always live my dreams, change the world, set something on fire, believe in myself, and other vaguely encouraging remarks. The second proclaims that you can't change the world, don't waste your time. Pursue your dreams, but only the ones within your reach. Don't go any further unless you have a certainty of success. 

With one, realization of one's dreams is key. Better to try and lose everything, than to be paralyzed by doubt and fear of failure. For the other, it is better never to fail. If you want to succeed in life, then keep the bar low.You'll reach it every time. 

Isn't there a better way? Can't we aim for the highest of heights, but keep our plans practical? Can't the grandest of aspirations be balanced by pragmatic realizations?

We shouldn't hope to change the world, but we shouldn't despair of helping it. The problem is, that's such an overused, cliche, vague phrase. Honestly, what does it even mean? Change the world. Change what about it? Change the global economic structure? Eradicate poverty from every corner of society? Enforce an absolute peace upon the world? 

It's a fool's errand and that's the problem. We try lifting the world, struggle greatly, and eventually we crumble beneath its weight. But on the other side of the spectrum, we see such failures play out before our eyes, weigh the chances, and turn away.  Both paths lead to the same result: Failure. Failure to act or failure to succeed. 

The thing is, we were never meant to change the world. No matter how much you and I try, we just can't. And that might be hard to accept, but it's ok. Why did we become so concerned about the numbers anyway? Was Jesus a failure because He didn't physically heal every person in the world? He only fed five thousand, not five million or five billion. 

He looked at the immediate circumstances of where He was and did something about it. He didn't zoom about on a chariot, healing and feeding entire towns wholesale, as he roared through the countryside, a cloud of dust and disciples trailing after Him. 

Jesus heals persons, not peoples. He's feeds humans, not humanity. His concern focused on the here and now, the people present before Him. Even as He suffered and died to redeem Humanity, He still turned to the man beside Him on the cross and offered him the comfort and hope of Heaven.

The more we become so focused and distracted by the numbers, the easier it is to forget the person standing right before us.

We all have limits, we only can stretch so far. It doesn't matter if we can help one person or a thousand. What matters is that we helped. Each life we touch is priceless. Each life is of unfathomable importance. You can't measure that. You can't determine whether something is a success or not, only by the numbers. 

You've done something good. You changed someone's life for the better. You've probably even changed your own. In the end, it doesn't matter whether you succeeded. It doesn't matter if you failed. What matters is that you tried. 

If only we all did.

That would change the world.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Friend, Jesus

Uhg, people, I'm dead.

I'm staring at this computer screen, screaming "I CAN'T THINK, I CAN'T THINK!!"

So, yeah, I think that's a good enough introduction for this post. Or, maybe, it could function as my ending, too.

Guys, I can't write about God anymore. Ok, well, not really, but I need help. Due to my last minute procrastination and overall state of panic, I can't even decide on a topic. Well, actually, I did. I tried to be on top of things and starting writing it last night, but after reading it this morning, nope. Time to try something new. There's seriously nothing more discouraging than a looming deadline and a blank computer document. 

I mean, sure, I could just not post today. But wouldn't that mean I'm a failure??? I mean, I promised to post every Sunday, it'd practically be a sin to just not do it. Right? 

Wrong. Well, I don't know. The whole point of setting deadlines was to make sure that I sat down, at least once a week, and actually wrote something for the blog. 'Cause I have a tendency to forget things, as evidenced by the fact that I'm writing this at 8:17 Sunday night. 

But what happened? I used to be on top of this, I had so many blog posts pre-written, they were coming out of mah ears! I used to be dying of impatience waiting for another week to roll by, so that I could share with ya'll what I had written.

Maybe, I've forgotten. I've lost focus. After all, I started this blog for a purpose. I didn't start it just to become popular and have a gagillion of followers. It's evidenced in the very name of the blog. 

Lux Filii - Light of the Son

I wanted to spread the light I saw in my own life. I wanted to spread my joy of being Christian. I wanted to be positive, when the rest of the world seemed to be filled with darkness. 

I want to show that life is worth living. I want to share my struggles, not to prove that they really are challenging, but that they can be overcome.

This. This is me. Being who I was, being Christian, I had to share it. Every time I wrote, it would come pouring out. I knew something was there, something greater than me. I couldn't just put a cap on it, to keep it for myself.

It seemed whenever I put myself into the words, whenever I shared it freely, I could feel something at work. I can feel it now, driving me forward.

When I see the beautiful life I've been given, I need to share that. We're meant to be mirrors. When you know that God's light is real, it doesn't matter what you go through. I always tried to put everything I went through in perspective, to see what the pains, struggles, and confusion really were.

They're opportunities to love God. To love God, even when it doesn't feel good, when it makes no sense. To let go and trust in Him. That utter dependence to Him, truly is a great blessing and a cherished freedom.  There is no greater proof of our love when God apparently vanishes from our lives and we still say, "I believe."

I'm not an delusional optimist. Yes, there is evil in this world. The struggle is real. Nor am I a hopeless pessimist, because, in the end, our suffering will turn to joy and tears shall turn to laughter.

Let His name be my last word. There never was a greater story told. The story where God became Man, so that He might dwell among us and set us free.

The Man, who died that I might live.

My friend, 


Sunday, August 21, 2016

One Step at a Time

Do you ever feel like you're wandering? 

As if you're heading for the right destination, but you just don't quite know the way. 

For me, I've been a person who has a lot of dreams and ambitions. I like knowing what I want to do with my life, after I leave school. I've got it all figured out. I'll be a Church Organist/Film Composer/Independent Artist/Husband/Blogger who's Financially Stable and Deeply Spiritual. 

To be perfectly honest, that's the first time I've ever typed it out. Doesn't it look all nice and neat? The problem is, so far, I've figured out what I want to do with my life. Now, I need to figure out what God has planned for my life. And that's what's scary.

'Cause God doesn't really fit into our neat boxes, labels, and to-do lists. I don't know about you, but it seems God has a tendency to throw a well-placed and quite necessary wrench into our orderly plans. These plans are not just wishful thinking, they're tightly held dreams that, in my case, have become partial realities. Of that list previously mentioned, four out of five of them are already true to my life. I do play organ for Church, I do compose music for films, I have started to release my music, and, obviously, I've become a blogger. (But no, I'm not married yet! ;) 

But those are things I do now, am I meant to continue with them for the next 50 years? Will I really still be blogging when I'm 65? (Which, incidentally, would come out to be 2,600 blog posts, if I posted every week.) 

Even now, it can be a struggle just trying to juggle everything together. And sometimes I just want to give up. And maybe I should, because I'm having trouble seeing which way I should go. 

Wouldn't it be easier if God just came out and told us what to do with our lives? A nice detailed overview of our vocation, career, who we should marry or whether we should at all, how long we have to live, what is necessary to stay on the right track to heaven, that all came as a package deal, along with our birth certificate and social security number.  

And He could, if He wanted to. After all, God is all-powerful. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to forget that God is also all-wise. All gifts that God gives are blessings and all gifts that He doesn't give are blessings just the same. 

Sometimes, God will say yes to our prayers. Other times, He will say no, but only because He wants to say yes to something greater. 

God doesn't give us a cheat sheet to life for the same reason He only gives us our "Daily Bread." Have you ever noticed that? We never pray, "Give us today, our yearly supply of bread...", but rather, only bread for the day. There's a reason for that and it's a good one. 

If God did give us His plan for our life, we would both lose our greatest strength and glorify our greatest weakness. We would forfeit our dependence on God, so that we could rely solely on the gift, not the Giver. God did not make life to be a treasure hunt, where He'd give us a map and turn us on our merry way. Life was meant to be journey between us and God. The Lover and the Beloved. 

If God gave us a lifetime supply of bread, then we would have no further need of Him for our daily sustenance. If we have been given directions, how would we ever turn to the Way, that is Christ?

 We weren't meant to teach ourselves, to just figure it out on our own. The whole point of existence is to know God! It's not to do all the "right" things, to have it all figured out. Living Christianity means living for Christ. All Christ wants is for us to have that critical relationship with Him, otherwise, nothing makes sense! If we had a truly, pure, total, self-giving love for God, we wouldn't find our trials and tribulations sacrificial or hard to bear. 

If we're madly enthusiastic about something, do we feel hardship because we must give up something lesser in order to enjoy it fully? 

God created us for to know, to love, and to serve Him and to be with Him forever in Heaven.

He gets us there by simply taking us by the hand and leading you and me home. 

One step at a time.   

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Day One

Life can be tempting sometimes. 

It's so easy to just turn away and say, "Nah, I'll get to that tomorrow."
And it's things like that, which result in me sitting here in the morning, trying to get this blog post written. And every time I'm thinking, "Geez, Thomas, why didn't you start this earlier?"

And I protest because I don't even know what to write about! At this very moment, I have about no clue where I'm going with this post.  Maybe I should actually get a plan together, maybe I should actually be responsible and write with purpose. 

Because in life, we're often fed a great lie. It's a lie that says: We've got time tomorrow. We've got time to write this blog post before Sunday, we've got time to prepare for that recital, we've got plenty of time to change our lives. 

The fact of the matter is we do have time, but we might not have it tomorrow. If you live each day like it's your last, well, one of these times you're going to be right.
I find myself always hoping to simplify my life, to pray more, to write more. But it's just too late to try right now. I know I have to change sometime, but I'm sure that everything will just fall into place.

I reasoned, if any good we do is achieved solely by the grace of God, what part do I play in it? If prayer was uncomfortable or difficult, then I must be doing something wrong. I thought grace was supposed to carry me completely in this journey. I used to think that way, but I'm starting to realize more and more, that's not how it works. After all, I would struggle with even the smallest acts of prayer. 

But the race to heaven, to perfection, is not a sprint. It's the longest marathon we will ever experience. If I live till I'm exactly 100-years-old, that means I've still got 85 years left to struggle through. The problem is that we can look at holy people around us, true paradigms of Christian living, or the lives of martyrs and saints and be tempted to just give up. 
But if life is a journey, then we need to train for it. We shouldn't expect to go sprinting for miles at our first try. Your body couldn't handle it and if we treat prayer the same way, then we shouldn't be surprised at our failures.  

If you're anything like me, we need a schedule, a gameplan. We need to strategize, to problem-solve. If that means starting small, then it means starting small. The key word here is start. We can't just improvise through our spiritual lives, doing what we can and failing at what we can't. This is our eternal destiny, blame whoever you want, but in the end, the choice was yours. We need to take this seriously. And pushing it off till tomorrow won't help. 
Wishing for tomorrow means you've written off today. You've got to make use of the opportunities that you have today. If you don't use it, then you lose it. If you say you don't have any time, then you need to figure out your priorities. Whatever it is, what's most important is to take the first step. That could simply be praying for God to show you the way! 

It might be hard, or it might be easier than you thought. Failure is only another chance to start again. After all, what have we to lose?
Pretty much everything, I'd say.

So let's make today, day one.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Idling Forward

Sometimes, I don't understand. 

Why does it seem like everyone around me is hurting and yet, I'm doing just fine? 
Looking around me, I see good things and bad things. And, as usual, the bad things tend to appear bigger than good ones. 

All around me, there are people hurting, families tearing apart, uncertainty, financial worries, loss of a loved one, and squelched dreams. I see people trying to overcome the storms that threaten their faith. 

And for me, I feel like I've never been tested. 

Yes, I have experienced some of the aforementioned trials, but never in a way that made me seriously question the faith that I've always been raised in. It was hard, sure, but never quite in the same way I've heard or read about. If life is a road to Heaven, then, of course, I've encountered obstacles on the way. I've tripped and stumbled and it hurts a lot. But through all of it, I've never thought about turning back or finding a new path. 

Which leaves me with two possibilities. Either my faith is stronger than I think it is, (unlikely), or the trials I've experienced are as small as I think them to be. 

But I feel the question is, Why hasn't my faith been tested yet? Am I not mature or strong enough yet? Am I just not ready for it?

It's not that I'm asking for a catastrophe to happen, but I just want to know how deep my faith truly is. It's hard to measure something if you've never traversed its limits. How can I tell someone how far I can run unless I actually attempt running as far as I possibly can?

But what if I'm wrong? What if I've been looking at the wrong angle at this? After all, it's much easier to be dependent on God when you actually have need of Him. When you lose every shred of security, you have nothing left to get in your way of God. God is our surest refuge, a foundation to stand upon when all others fail. The problem is, we seem to always seek out our Saviour as last resort, a sort of fail-safe measure when everything else fails. God seems to have become our fairy Godmother, a forgotten fancy that appears only when all seems to be lost.

When the storms hit, God becomes a lot more evident in our minds. Great evil requires a greater good to overcome. That's just simple math. But when the sea is calm, we can tend to leave God below in the ship, sleeping undisturbed.

What if the greatest challenge to my faith is not my belief in it, but rather my commitment to it? 

One of my favorite aspects of Africa is that it was hard. I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly every day. I saw the beauty of human faith and trust in God and the despair and desperation of poverty. There were things that made me squirm, cringe, and want to turn away. Sometimes, I probably did. But each experience, regardless of whether it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside or confront me with the reality of human suffering, was a powerful experience. A good experience, not in the sense that it was fun, but that I needed to see this.

In Africa, things challenged me, made me confront the problem of pain, allowed me to see just how much I could take.

Back home, it's not hard. I can take things easy and not many people would even notice. No one begs for my water, I don't have to witness the nature of poverty, I don't even have to take cold showers anymore!

In Africa, all I had to do was shift into neutral and let God push me. I was idling forward. He helped me get started, but now I have to pull my weight. That means work. Sacrifice. Patience. Commitment.

I can't just drift from one spiritual high to the next. I can't just glide along, complacent. If I'm not moving forward, then I'm just going to fall right back to where I started. Perfection is a pursuit of the infinite. We have Jesus as our measure, our role model.

I don't know about you, but that's a very high bar to reach! And while it's one that we can't make on our own, we still have to give it our very best. We still have to work, we still have to suffer. Because if all we're going to do is idle forward,

Then we're going nowhere.

And we're going to get there fast.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sharing the Cross

There will always be things to challenge us. 
The real problem lies in that there are always two paths to every choice. 

Sometimes, we think we know poverty. We've seen the pictures, we've donated the money, we've done our part. Haven't we?
In Uganda, we stayed and visited at some very nice schools (at least, nice schools for Uganda.) The students are always dressed in clean uniforms, there's a beautiful landscape all around, and everyone is happy and excited to see us. The children run out beaming, waving, and calling "Mzungu, Mzungu!" (White Person)

And in that setting, poverty seems picturesque and idyllic. Everything's just perfect. All is right.

At least, so I was deluded. I never really knew what it meant to live there.

One day, we were herded up like a bunch of grumpy sheep and we squeezed into the school truck. From there, we drove around the Ugandan countryside. I was informed previously, that today we would be visiting, personally, in groups of two, the homes and families of the students of Our Lady of Guadalupe School. So, after some hours of driving back and forth like a drunken circus (I can only imagine what they thought of us!), I found myself in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Africa, with only my aunt, a six pack of pop, and 8 chipati to survive.

The student we were visiting, Emmanuel, lead us down a dirt path to his humble home. There we met the rest of his family, none of whom spoke English, and he showed us around. Communication was difficult as he spoke rather poor English, but we managed. This was the first time I ever stepped into typical African home. I wasn't totally surprised, but it did change my perspective.

By American standards, they had pretty much nothing. You could probably fit their house into my bedroom, everything was dark and the rooms extremely small. I think they were cooking a couple corn cobs outside, where my aunt had handed a bunch of licorice to the kids.

In reflection of that day and the rest of the trip, it's made me question myself. Why me?

Why am I the one who gets to live in an affluent country? Why do I get the chance to succeed, to have an excess to give? Why don't I have to walk miles just to get water for the day? Why don't I only get two meals a day, consisting of porridge and beans?

You could feed a child lunch today for 2.2 cents. TWO POINT TWO CENTS, PEOPLE!! That's about eight freakin dollars a year. I spent more than that, just buying a burger in the airport.

Why? In the overall view of things, life ain't fair. These are children. They haven't had a chance to do anything wrong and yet...there they are. They get so hungry that they have to leave school because they can't even concentrate.

I just made $50 today playing the organ. Technically, I could feed 2,272 children today with that. But what am I supposed to do? Sure, I can give them something today, but tomorrow they'll go hungry just the same. I'm not big enough to feed the world.

In my mind, that's not justice. That's not mercy. That's cruelty. Sure, I can understand pain. I can understand redemptive suffering. But children can't. They're not old enough to understand. To them, it's just pain.

But we're not called to understand. We're not always meant to make sense out of the bad things of this world.

What's necessary here is trust. Right now, faith doesn't mean believing that God exists. Faith means believing that God is good. Either He's a loving father or He's not.

Remember the student's house I told you about? Written in chalk on the wall in one of the dark, dirty rooms was:
"God bless us."

They know who God is. If they can look up to Heaven and call out in faith of His love, how can I dare question that? 

Some things are greater than we can understand. Yes, it's true that some are burdened with heavier crosses than others. But the way I see it, sometimes we're given lighter burdens, to help others carry their own. 

I might not understand, but I don't need to. God knows what He's doing. At times, it might seem hopeless, but you and I can still spread light in this world. 

Because with God,

Anything is possible.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Pearl of Africa

Alright, I'm back. I'm alive.

I survived

I'm going to depart from my usual structure of posting, mainly because I wasn't thinking much about it. Jet lag is always an adventure, (usually involving excessive sleep), and then there were parties and all-day film shoots at obscure castles. You'd think my life would simplify, but no, it hasn't. As such, this overwhelming whirlpool of busyness broadsided me by surprise and thus, postponed most opportunities to write something. 

I do, however, intend to get a grip on this unwieldy life of mine and make it follow what I want it to do. We'll see how it goes. Anyways, let's get started.

Basically, going to Africa was one of the greatest experiences of my life, to put it simply. In Uganda, there was change, challenge, and choice. Things happened there, big things. Every day was packed with adventures, challenges, and lessons. More happened in a day, than I usually experience in a week. And frankly, I miss the difficulties each day provided. I need them. In Africa, there were absolutes. Concrete, maybe even harsh realities that presented me with two choices.

Either close my eyes or take an honest look at myself and change.

It was not a comfortable experience, but I loved it that way. It was not easy and honestly, how could I have believed it would be otherwise? Now that I'm home, that feeling of being stretched, of being challenged, has lessened somewhat. And I don't know if that's a good thing. I'm scared of losing all that I learned there, of backtracking. The problem is not being too uncomfortable, but rather being too comfortable.

Since I'm already very late in posting this, I'll try and summarize the trip as coherently as possible. If you want to ask me questions about it in the comments, I can probably answer in a more in-depth manner.

After hopping off the plane in Entebbe, we visited the only zoo in Uganda and boated across Lake Victoria. Then, we headed to St. Kizito's High School where we stayed for the rest of the trip. From there, we constructed a playground for a school of some 550 young students and dedicated it in honor of my uncle, who passed away many years ago. We also helped with the construction of a Science Lab by transporting material for the builders by hand. At the same school, we dedicated a soccer field that four members of our group had raised $10,000 to construct. Once it is fully completed, it will be one of the nicest soccer fields in Uganda and several professional teams there have already asked for permission to play on it. Other than that, we built relationships with the students of the nearby schools and handed out many supplies for the villagers close by. In addition, we visited the site of the Uganda Martyrs, Namugongo and the National Mall of Uganda in Kampala.

Of course, that's a very brief summary of what happened. There were many personal, individual events that occurred throughout the trip, but that would be hard to fit all into one post. I'll most likely be sharing more about what I learned from it over the next few weeks, but until then,

I'm going to bed.

(And before you ask "Where are all the pictures?!?!?" Have no fear, I'll be posting them on Google Plus soon.)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Despite the Fear

Due to my absence in Africa, I've enlisted the help of Jonathan @Fishingforideas for a guest post. He was gracious enough to provide his take on the subject of courage...


Everyone’s afraid of something. Be it what others think of you, what your future holds, or even how you’re going to do on chemistry finals, fear is always there to take a hold of you. It’s ready to wrap you in its vise before you can think twice.
That brings up a good question, though. Is it okay to be afraid?

And I would say, absolutely. Think of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. He was so afraid and anxious that he sweated drops of blood. If our perfect and sinless Savior was afraid, then I think it’s safe to say that being afraid is okay.
But as Christians, what’s not okay is when we let our fear control our actions. What’s not okay is when our fear becomes so strong and powerful that we can’t summon the courage to do what God wants us to do.  What’s not okay is when our fear becomes more influential in our life than God.
When Jesus was in the garden the night He was crucified, sure He was afraid! I think we’d all agree that we would be afraid also if we were in that situation. But the point is: He trusted in His Father so much, that He was able to overcome His fear and accomplish God’s will.
And that’s a beautiful picture of what we as Christians should do when we’re afraid. We can take our cares to God, trusting in Him always. Drawing strength from Him.
And then, even if you’re still afraid, that’s where you find the courage to step up and do what God’s calling you to do.
Because the point isn’t sucking it up and being brave. The point is trusting in God despite your fear, and stepping out in faith that He will use you how He wants. Because God might not always take away your fear. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that Jesus was afraid when he went to the cross. He didn’t want to be beaten and scourged and hung on a cross to die. But He chose to trust in the Father even though he was afraid.
And that’s when God can use you. When you’re so in tune with His will, that your fear takes a backseat. Sure, you might still be afraid, but when you’re confident that God has a plan through it all, your fear suddenly doesn’t seem to matter very much anymore.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, even when you face fear, you can always cling to faith.
And act in that faith according to His will, despite the fear.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Be Strong and Courageous

Hey, so I'm in Africa right now, so here's a guest post instead!
See you soon!

Hey there! *waves cheerfully* I’m known in the blogosphere as Blessing Counter. Just an ordinary country gal with an extraordinary view on life ;) I’m a Christian saved by grace, a daughter of the King. Ummmm….not sure what else to add to this. Oh! Well, if you’re interested in knowing, I’m 16, the oldest of 7 (soon to be 8), a lover of words, and I blog at Counting Your Blessings One by One .

When Thomas first asked me to write a post on courage, I was a little hesitant at first. Well, hesitant and a little awed at how God was working this out. You see, I was (and still am) struggling with this very thing. At this very moment, I’m learning to trust in the Lord and, well - have courage to be bold. So this will kinda be a retelling of some of the things the Lord has taught me in being bold for Him :)

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been very, very shy. Multiple times my parents have reminded me “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). This verse has been impressed deeply into both my mind and heart.

A few years ago, I thought that being shy was okay, since that’s how God made me, right? Well, yes and no. Now I don’t think being an introvert is wrong, no indeed! The world needs introverts just as much as it needs extroverts. But just because we’re introverts doesn’t mean we should go into hiding and live like a hermit. Over the years, I’ve realized that it becomes wrong when timidity keeps you from spreading the Gospel to others. For what did the Lord command us? “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15),  and “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!” (Psalms 96:3) Timidity shouldn’t be what holds you back from telling others about the awesome glory of God and His everlasting love for mankind.

There’s a certain amount of trust needed in being courageous. There are problems like wanting to do something but being afraid of what others will think of you. Or wanting to make new friends, but afraid of betrayal. Or thinking of telling the Gospel to someone, but afraid of making mistakes or the situation taking a wrong turn. What do we do during some of these scenarios that we will inevitably encounter during our lifetime? Trust in God! Know that our dear heavenly Father is watching us and He loves us for who we are. Not what others think we should be.  When things seem to be falling into a deep, dark hole, trust that God has everything in control. God has a reason for all these things to happen, even if it doesn’t look like it.

Same goes for trials. Life is hard. That’s the honest truth. You’re not the only one who struggles; everybody who ever lived, lives, or will live on this earth will struggle. Problems and temptations surround us every day. But God gives us courage to endure - Praise the Lord! Even when times seem to be impossibly difficult, know that God only gives us what He thinks we can handle. And we can use this courage in the Lord to help each other. We’re all brothers and sisters in Christ, and as Paul says, “[we should] encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). So don’t be daunted by the trials of this world. Even when things are getting dark, don’t worry. Have courage! The Lord is there for you. We are there for you.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).