My Journey To God

My Journey To God

"I refuse to kneel or pray, I won't remember you that way"
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I didn't find God the way most children find God. I didn't grow up being woken up on Sunday mornings, dressing up and sleepily going to mass. I didn't even grow up in a house where church was attended on the major holidays, where mass was long and hot and everyone is dressed up. I grew up in a household where religion was decided upon individually, rather than being forced. The relationship I found with God came through struggle, loss and, surprisingly, music.

In July of 2015, I lost my Nani. My Nani was my great-grandmother on my father's side, and she was the light of everyone's life. She was the smallest person I have ever met, but she had a big personality. She sat upon her throne in the living room, alternating between telling my mom and me about every aspect of her day that week and ordering us around as she "made us dinner." Making us dinner usually either meant us doing all the work or my Uncle Rick coming over with many pizzas. She was incredibly religious. She used to make me yearn for some form of religion in my life. My Nani was incredible, an Italian immigrant who was so forward thinking and strong that she was far ahead of her time.

In August of 2015, as we drove down to her services, The Wonder Years' song from their newest album came on. The Wonder Years had been there for me since middle school. Those lyrics weren't a quiet conversation about feeling depression bury itself in your bones, but they were realistic beyond belief. The song that came on, as we drove down to her services? "Cigarettes and Saints." I have never before felt tears well up in my eyes before the song even started.

"And I refuse to kneel or pray, I won't remember you that way." [...] "I'm sure there ain't a heaven, but that don't mean I don't like to picture you there. I bet you're bumming cigarettes off saints. And I'm sure you're still singing, but I'll bet that you're still just a bit out of key. That crooked smile pushing words across your teeth."

I spent most of the funeral service not praising God but instead cursing him. Why would a God who was supposed to be merciful take away the most incredible woman I ever had the pleasure to know? To love?

But what I learned was the important thing. After I healed, my grief subsiding, I realized that everyone needs something to believe in. It took the loss of someone so close to me to realize that as angry as I was, as hopeless and empty as I felt, all I needed was God. If for no other reason (and there were a lot of reasons for me to seek God), the most important was that every time I step into a church, I feel my Nani. I feel her love, her warm smile, and her spirit next to me every time I close my eyes to pray. Finding God kept me connected to my Nani, making it so I never had to say goodbye to someone who was so important in my life.

And so, here I am. This September I will continue to make my Nani proud beyond the grave by going through RCIA, and by next Easter I will be a confirmed Catholic. I'll never have to let go of my Nani.

Cover Image Credit: Kate Marlette

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.
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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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What the world really needs

Jesus, Sweet Jesus.

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"What this world needs is for us to stop hiding behind our relevance. Blending in so well that people can't see the difference and it's the difference that sets the world free." (What This World Needs- Casting Crowns)

I walked into the conference room at work to ask my mom if she had seen the news about Kate Spade. She hadn't, and when I told her what had happened, she was so shocked and upset, I had to clarify that it was Kate Spade the fashion designer. My mom has never met Kate Spade, yet upon hearing the news of her suicide, she was heartbroken. My mom was heartbroken for a woman she has never met.

That really got me thinking.

It is so easy to lose empathy for people we don't know, yet God calls us to love everyone. We are to have compassion towards each other and unbelievers. It can be so easy to look at the world with blinders on under the guise of not wanting to be desensitized. However, if we shield ourselves from it so much, we aren't being the light to the world God called us to be. Have you ever seen someone that you know is not saved and suddenly had a strong sense of compassion for them? You may or may not know them, but you can tell by the way they act they aren't saved. In an instant, your heart goes out to them. It is as if God opens your eyes and suddenly you feel empathy for someone you have never met.

We were recently in D.C for the weekend and were eating dinner at a restaurant. One of the other servers in the restaurant caught our eye. It was a guy but was dressed slightly like a girl (wearing a skirt). He came by our table a few times to refill our waters, bring more lemons, etc. and my heart suddenly went out to him. I don't even remember his name, yet it saddened my heart to look into his eyes and not see light. As nice as he was, there was a sadness lurking behind it. A sadness that comes from not having the joy of Jesus Christ.

Recently, there has been a reoccurring statement from people around me; "The world needs Jesus," or "They just need Jesus." How right these people are. The world needs Jesus and we need to tell them about Him. I was doing a devotional by Priscilla Shirer recently and she was speaking about how Satan targets us. She said:

"But, when I suspect he may be the source of it, I don't know about you, but it causes a holy indignation to rise up inside me."

Holy indignation. What a beautiful phrase. When we see people that we know don't have the light of Christ and are deceived by the ways of the world and the schemes of Satan, we should have holy indignation fired up inside of us. As Christians, we are often called "ambassadors for Christ." How about warriors for Christ? When we see someone that needs to be saved, instead of holding back, why don't we show them the love of Christ? We should see evil for what it is and instead of backing away from it, we need to stand firm, fight back, and replace it with light and truth. Fight for truth and love, and fight back against the schemes of Satan. Instead of being apathetic to what God shows us in people, how about we let the empathy burn strong and act on the fire that is inside of us.

Casting Crowns has a beautiful song called, "What if His People Prayed?" The lyrics say:

"What if the armies of the Lord, picked up and dusted off their sword. Vowed to set the captives free, and not let Satan have one more? What if the church for Heaven's sake, finally stepped up to the plate. Took a stand upon God's promise, and stormed Hell's rusty gates. What if His people prayed?"

What if we did what the song suggests? What if we fought against Satan for the people that don't have the glorious hope and light we have? How different the world would be if we took off our blinders, quit being so apathetic, put on our armor, and fought. Instead of being intimidated to silence, we need to become louder for Christ. There's a saying that "light shines brighter in the dark." If the Christians of the world let their light shine, I can only imagine we would illuminate the world.

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