Reflecting on 2014 Wednesday, Dec 31 2014 

2014 has been a year full of loss, pain, letting go, joy, cherishing loved ones, and being present with God through it all. We lost my father-in-law in February, in May I turned 30, we went on a Carlese family vacation to California with my sister-in-law, her son and visited our cousin, her family, uncle and aunt. We celebrated our 5th year anniversary in Windham, NY and our first daughter turned 1 in August. I took a baby moon vacation alone to Big Sur, CA with my dear friend Helen and lived in a Monastery for a couple days. I gave my first “message” in front of our church during our Christmas Eve service; that was a big milestone for me to do that, because I’m terrified of public speaking. The hardest part of this year was losing my father-in-law to cancer and losing a friend who I thought would be in my life for the long run. We grew apart and I’m sad to say that we also gave up on each other. I wish it wasn’t the case, but I’m learning to respect her boundary. Rejection has been on my mind for the past few months, and I’m learning to live with it knowing that I’m still loved by others and especially by God.

2015 will be another year I expect to be full of hardship, growing pains, and bountiful of joy as we hope to have our second daughter in April by His grace.

This prayer sums up my year, I’m hopeful for new beginnings.

God of history and of my heart,

so much has happened to me during these whirlwind days;

I’ve known death and birth;

I’ve been brave and scared;

I’ve hurt, I’ve helped;

I’ve been honest, I’ve lied;

I’ve destroyed, I’ve created;

I’ve been with people, I’ve been lonely;

I’ve been loyal, I’ve betrayed;

I’ve decided, I’ve waffled;

I’ve laughed and I’ve cried.

You know my frail heart and my frayed history-

and now another day begins.

O God, help me to believe in beginning

and in my beginning again,

no matter how often I’ve failed before.

Help me to make beginnings:

to begin going out of my weary mind into fresh dreams,

daring to make my own bold tracks in the land of now;

to begin forgiving

that I may experience mercy;

to begin questioning the unquestionable

that I may know truth;

to begin disciplining

that I may create beauty;

to begin sacrificing

that I may accomplish justice;

to begin risking

that I may make peace;

to begin loving

that I may realize joy.

Help me to be a beginning for others,

to be a singer to the songless,

a storyteller to the aimless,

a befriender of the friendless;

to become a beginning of hope for the despairing,

of assurance for the doubting,

of reconciliation for the divided;

to become a beginning of freedom for the oppressed,

of comfort for the sorrowing,

of friendship for the forgotten;

to become a beginning of beauty for the forlorn,

of sweetness for the soured,

of gentleness for the angry,

of wholeness for the broken,

of peace for the frightened and violent of the earth.

Help me to believe in beginnings,

to make a beginning,

to be a beginning,

So that I may not grow old,

but grow new

Each day of this wild, amazing life

you call me to live

with the passion of Jesus Christ.

Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle

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Prayer Wednesday, Dec 3 2014 

Over time I am realizing more and more that prayer is an opportunity to be in communion with God.  I’ve been practicing “centering prayer” for maybe almost 5/6 years now, it is a loving way to simply Be with God.  I admit though that my struggle is keeping a discipline.  I love the quote from Henri Nouwen, “to pray is to move to the center of all of life and love, enter into the depths of one’s own heart, where God’s heart is”.  During this first week of Advent, I thank God for hope, that there is hope for me to enter in such intimacy and closeness with Him.  When this type of connectedness happens I find a desire to be in His will rather than mine, which is a constant battle.  One of my spiritual instructors Wil Hernandez says, “prayer cease to be a mere activity we have to attend to nor an event that we need to participate in, but a way of life–where every facet of our existence becomes a prayer”.  I love putting my daughter to bed/nap these recently.  In the past I got lost into the idea that “crying it out” is the best way to teach a baby to fall asleep on their own.  Although, this is a skill I’d love my daughter to learn, to hear her cry out for someone to be with her as she falls asleep is hard to bare and ignore.  Recently we put a rocking chair in her room and I would hold her, and sing to her until she fell asleep.  It’s become such a sacred moment for me, watching her look at me as I sing, being comforted by my embrace and feeling safe enough to close her eyes.  During this moment I am able to see how “prayer is the center of life and love” however, I wish I can do that in all my moments.  May discipline and practice move me to simply find joy in having a “date” with God.

Attempting to live a contemplative life raising a family in a modern world. Wednesday, Aug 6 2014 

It’s been a few weeks now since I last spoke to my spiritual director.  I’ve been meaning to write this blog after our conversation,  but seem to get lost in the business of a new mom.  It was nice to reconnect with her and keep our relationship going.  I feel grateful for her presence in my life.   I knew exactly what I wanted to talk to her about.  My agenda was to discuss my inability to feel content and a deep inner peace with my life and how God has and is shaping me.  It is a wish I have, where I no longer covet what others have, how their lives are, and accept the life God has given me. We did discuss this however, at the end of the conversation what I got most out of our time was the need to accept God’s love and grace for me, that he loves me no matter how I’m feeling on a given day, as much as I’d like to grow… I need to not lose the fact that God loves me in my immaturity and maturity.

I have been attracted to the monastic/monk way of life for a long time now.  I’ve taken a number of silent retreats, and lived in a monastery for a few days with my husband.  What I admire most about them is their ability to let go of worldly possessions and desires and spend every minute before God, serving him alone as well with other.  Now I’m sure they have their own struggles, like being possessive of the things they do have, like their books, or the chair they like to sit in during mass.   I  also understand the  monks  are affected by the people they live with as well as their time alone with God.  The people surround me day in and day out is my husband and 11 month old daughter.  They are shaping me and I am to them.  I just hope and pray that my role in their life will be positive.  I want to trust God that he is leading in and through us.  I hope to also allow God to shape me during my time alone with him, especially when I reflect on my feelings on how my family is shaping me whether they be negative feelings or positive and in return I become a better wife and mother.

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1st and 2nd week of Sabbath Monday, Mar 1 2010 

My husband, Jim and I decided to try to develop a sabbath routine once a week. We chose to start on Friday nights from 6pm to Saturday evenings 6pm. We are in the midst of testing how to do a sabbath and what works for us, since it’s a foreign thing to us. I chose to start on Friday evenings, because we are usually home together on that night. I like to start with a nice meal, a lit candle and a few minutes in silence before we pray and begin eating. So far we have been successful in starting our sabbath that way, however once the meal is done, it seems its been difficult to stop, rest, and contemplate.

Last week after our sabbath dinner, we went to our marriage small group, which was a spiritual experience. We worked on our family geneograms  and surprisingly God was doing something in me. I started tearing up in front of the group as I shared what I noticed what I received from my family and how it affects my relationship with Jim. Nonetheless, it brought Jim and I closer, and I felt more in love with him then I did before. Saturday was quite an eventful day we went to a memorial service, for Jim’s uncle who passed away about 1 year ago and then had lunch with his extended family. It was nice to get to know them a little better.

After that we had a 10 year anniversary to go to, which was like a wedding because they redid their vows in a church and the woman wore her wedding dress from 10 years ago! It was an interesting experience to see their love for each other and how they wanted to celebrate it in such away. They incorporated their cultural differences which was neat to see, she’s Thai and he’s African. It was beautiful to see how they both embrace each others cultures.

And after that we had a birthday gathering to go to, which ended late and we didn’t get home till about 1am. But, It was a fun time playing games and fellowship.

This week we started off with our dinner and a candle, only this time we had 3 couples over. So I cooked for about 6 hours for 8 people. It was exhausting but worth it. I wanted our sabbath dinner to be more special then our regular dinners, so I went a little overboard. Jim decided to come home a little early that day from work. He shoveled the snow in the driveway and then helped me in the kitchen. It was a little stressful, because I was already tired from cooking  from noon, and I didn’t want to help him. But one thing I did want from preparing for sabbath is for us to cook together. So I took a small break and joined him in the kitchen.

We had cauliflower soup, pork tenderloin with an apple and cranberry sauce over mixed greens. For dessert our friends bought some treats from Astoria, Queens and I baked brownies and a ricotta-limonecello cheesecake.

Before dinner we lit a candle, turned off all the lights, spent a few minutes in silence, said a small prayer and then turned the lights on again and began eating. It was a great time of fellowship. After dinner we all played a game that lasted a bit long, and watched the Winter Olympics.

Saturday was another eventful day, this time we had a funeral to go to and I had to be ready by 8:30 in the morning, that was hard, I didn’t want to get up and used the excuse that it was my sabbath. But I knew this was something I had to go to.  The funeral was very sad but, I was moved by the love of his entire family. It’s an Italian family so there was a lot of people that came out and wanted to say a few words. His nephews gave  beautiful, and heart-felt speeches. After the funeral there was a reception, which went long, the food took forever to come out. I was getting impatient, partly because I was hungry and tired. But my day didn’t end there, I had to meet with a friend who is starting her business in hair and makeup and wanted to use me as a model for her website.

I was so tired and was really craving for a nap, but I committed to being there for her so I kept my promise. I enjoy being helpful whenever I can be. But it felt strange and uncomfortable when someone took so many pictures of me. And I’m not really a makeup person, mainly because I’m afraid I will get breakouts so I avoid it. But, I noticed that I started struggling within myself once she did my hair and makeup, that I liked how I looked. However I struggled with the thought that I needed makeup to look attractive. Someone once told me that makeup is used to enhance your beauty, but I’m not sure if I’m OK with that. Hmmmm…

I want every interaction and situation to be a moment where I experience God, especially on my Sabbath, but I guess I’m struggling with what things I am OK with doing, and what I’m not OK with doing…. should I be feeling tired on my Sabbath, even though I saw God in the midst of my experiences?

Hello world! Monday, Mar 1 2010 

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