Not Just Another Relationship Article

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Facebook knows me all too well, darn social media advertisement algorithms.  It seems that each time I log into my account {which is way too often} a new article pops up on my feed, promising all the secrets of relationships. 5 Tips to Perfect Communication with the Opposite Sex

How to Perfect Your Relationship

Romantic Secrets Everyone Should Know I'm done with those articles.

Before I started dating, and even at the beginning of my relationship, I read them like they were going out business.  But, if there was one thing that reading all of those blogs, articles and books failed to teach me it was that no one is "by the book."  When I would struggle with how to react to a situation and seek advice from those resources, I'd always come up frustrated that no one was writing on what I was going through - there wasn't an article just for my relationship.

Honestly, to consider that each relationship issue, problem, decision or positive impression can be solve by a simple google search or thumbing through a book by a so-called expert is a huge injustice to people as unique and individual children of God.

This isn't to discount the beauty of advice, good counsel and awareness.  There are some amazing resources out there that focus on a holistic view of a relationship.  But click-bait articles from Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire do not help in the formation of a relationship.  If anything, they actually hurt interactions because, in general, they reduce your relationship down to a cycle of use - whether that be for emotional, physical or even spiritual objectification.

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship - or a perfect soul mate that has been destined by God from the beginning of time to fix all of your problems and be the strengths to all of your weaknesses.  Hold on, before you start yelling 'cynic' and 'pessimist,' hear me out.  I'm not saying that you can't find or be found by someone who compliments you well, and with whom you can valiantly struggle with towards holiness despite your areas that aren't complimentary.  But, even in the case of a beautiful, sainthood-as-the-goal relationship, it won't fulfill you.

In your heart is a gaping hole - you know which one I'm talking about, the hole that has eaten you when you're lying awake at night, walking on your way to class or sitting at Church.  It's an aching that you can't dismiss and it seems to pop up at the most inconvenient of moments.  But the most glaring characteristic of this hole is that it is God-shaped...which we want to ignore.  Because it's easier to stuff things that aren't God into this hole for temporary relief.  This isn't to discount the beauty of how your relationship with God can influence and interact with your relationship with others.

If you're in a relationship, take time to truly and genuinely get to know the other person.  What their likes, dislikes, passions, pet peeves, frustrations, joys and struggles are cannot be found in the latest dating blog.  Experiences, laughter, tears, and the gift of a life lived together cannot be revealed to you by Aziz Ansari - and I wouldn't trust him even if he did.  You're in a relationship with a human being who was created by God in a unique way, so don't try to squish him or her down into a simple method of relationship tips you found in a google search.  Human beings are messy and muddy and they can't be reduced down to the way you would like the relationship to go.

If you're not in a relationship, the temptation to generalize comes in a whole new slew of ways.  To categorize the opposite sex as "all men" and "all women" simply because it hasn't gone well with a certain few of them is falling into the same trap as I did with my article reading - a failure to realize the beauty of the human experience.  Look at the world the way that God sees it - an adventure full of excitement.  And don't forget the most important relationship in your life, your relationship with God.  Yes, it sounds cheesy and you've probably heard it more than you want to...but it's true. Finding the foundation of that relationship with Christ will make an incredible difference when it does come time to build other relationships.

This weekend is Valentines Day, which means that the world recognizes that human relationships {romantic or not} offer a unique opportunity to love.  However, don't forget that each day you wake up breathing offers a unique opportunity to love.  So tell the people in your life that they are loved, respected and cherished...and don't be afraid to remind them that God loves them more than you will ever be able to.

 

 

 

NFP as a single, college age girl

You wouldn't think that the words "Natural family planning" and "single Catholic college girl" would work together in one sentence very well. Well, until now that is.  It's not just for married couples - the concepts introduced with Natural Family Planning are concepts that can affect every one's life, regardless of what stage you're at.  So why now? 

Because you shouldn't wait until you are married to start thinking about your fertility.

It's easy to think that the time we have right now while in college is not the time to be worried about fertility and all that jazz.  We're young.  We've got our whole lives ahead of us.  Yet let me tell you something - it is becoming more and more obvious to me that life is literally flying by quicker than I can blink.  My little sister just graduated from high school.  My co-worker just got married and now has a beautiful little baby.  My college peers are graduating.  Life is happening, and snap you're fingers and you'll be at another stage of your life.  Don't wait until you're married to start thinking about how to take care of your health and fertility.

Because you should know where you stand on the issue of birth control before you are in a relationship.

The number one reason marriages don't last anymore? Failed communication.  When birth control was first introduced to the public scene in the early 1960s, it's affect on issues like divorce wasn't something that was on people's minds.  This was about improving marriages! Less stress around pregnancies, littles, and a general well being of the family.  But come in the 1970s, and divorce rates doubled.  And it didn't stop in the 70s  - the number of divorces tripled from 400,000 in 1962 to 1.2 million in 1981.

Why? Because birth control in a marriage says one thing and does another.  Sex, by it's unitive and procreative nature, says "Here is all of me!" but the addition of birth control tacks on "Well, all of me except my fertility.  And our future children."  And that communication can tear down a marriage that is meant to be, according to the Catechism, "ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring" but instead reduces both members down to the sum of their parts.

Because it's not birth control...which is what my doctors want me to be on.

It seems now a days that any medical issue that arises in a girl's life is a case where birth control is prescribed by her doctor.  According to a study conducted in the United States, from 2006-2010, 62 percent of all women in the United states who are of reproductive age are currently prescribed some form of contraceptive birth control.

I've been there.  I've sat down with my doctor and heard how medical issues would be easily, quickly, and painlessly resolved if I would just let her write a prescription for birth control for me.

But there are a lot of risks associated with just the pill - most of which are not gone over in the doctors office when the pill itself is prescribed.  The pill is actually a combination of two different hormonal medications: estrogen and progestin.  Because of this increase in hormone presence in the body, the pill carries with it many side affects, one of them being breast cancer.  Research indicates that the birth control pill itself will increase the risk of a woman getting breast cancer by over 40% if she takes the pill before she has her first child.  After she delivers her first baby though, the chances rocket to over 70% increase of breast cancer risk if she continues for more than four years.

My family has a very high risk of breast cancer on both sides of my family, so taking the pill for me would be not only putting my current health at risk, but also placing the time I spend with my future family at jeopardy
 as well.  Other than just breast cancer risks though, the pill's side affects also include higher blood pressure, heart health issues, blood clotting, a lack of fertility once off the pill prescription, increase of liver and cervical cancers, difficulty breast feeding and a lowering of the immune system to AIDS and HIV.  

On top of all this, the cost of being on the pill for just five years is over $1,000.  I'm in college.  And I drink a lot of coffee.  The budget that I have for medication is very small - and to be purchasing something that acts as a band-aid for the medical issues that I do have, only to increase my future medical risks and costs isn't a cost effective choice. 

Studying the concepts of Natural Family Planning - such as the charting and tracking of fertility - is one way that NFP has been a blessing to me as a single Catholic woman.  Instead of relying on artificial hormones, I'm able to utilize the concepts of NFP to track my fertility and expose a lot of the underlying issues that birth control might have covered up - like the simple addition of vitamins into my diet and a better awareness of my fitness and general health.  

Also, this book was incredibly helpful for that reason.  

Because your body is amazing...and knowing how it works is fantastic too.

Even if you're not married, or heck, if you're in the same boat as me and you're not even dating, it's no excuse to not appreciate how stinking amazing the human body is.  One of my dearest friends is in veterinarian school and sends me facts about the body and the reproduction system and it's amazing. For instance, did you know that, for women, the smell of a newborn baby triggers the same part of the brain reward center as a drug addiction does?  God has literally thought of everything imaginable and to be able to learn about it is the bomb.

Although it may not seem like it, in your early twenties is the ideal time to learn all of this as well.  Down the road you may have a family, a full time career, graduate degree work, or any other number of amazing thing God has planned for you.  Right now is the perfect time to dig into the amazing work He's laid out for us in our creation.

Because life is beautiful no matter what stage of life you're in.

This morning at church I sat behind a family with five littles.  They were gorgeous - all of them under ten and full of life and energy.  And it was beautiful.  Am I utilizing NFP right now to plan my family with my spouse? Nope.  However, knowing how NFP works and the Church's teachings concerning families right now helps so much when both interacting with families now and when I, God willing, have my own family in the future.

God's plan for your fertility doesn't start when you put on a wedding dress.  Or when you are called to start a family.  Or even if you are not called to marriage at all.  Your body is good. It makes it possible for you to be Christ's hands and feet to the world around you.

This weekend we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension - yet another way that Christ tells us that our bodies are important.  He rises, body and soul, and ascends into Heaven.  If the body wasn't important, Christ wouldn't have a glorified one.

So take the time now to learn more about your fertility.  It is never too early to glorify the Lord with your whole self.

For further resources, check out these amazing websites:

Couple to Couple League: A great way to learn the basics of NFP and how they interact in a - marriage.

- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: This website has some great articles about the religious explanation of why the Catholic Church supports NFP.

- Carrots for Michaelmas: Haley Stewart is probably the most incredible Catholic mama blogger in my opinion.  She's sassy, has an incredible sense of style, and, in her own words is a "homeschooling, bacon-eating, coffee-drinking southern girl with a flair for liturgical feasts and a penchant for bright red lipstick."  In other words, who I want to be when I grow up.  She has a fantastic piece on her NFP experience over on her blog.

There are countless of other bloggers who have written on their experience with NFP - the good, the bad, and the ugly.  If you're looking for some more information on the subject, drop me a note in the comment box and I'll get you set up.

Obsession with Perfection

I find it very easy to obsess over the desire for perfection in my life.  I want everything to be just right.  From my grades and extracurricular activities to my closet and how my car is organized.  My heart to hearts with God are are filled with constant reminders that I need to really align my will with His, and not the other way around.  

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD." Isaiah 55:8

Yet it's easy to think we know best.  We know what would be perfect for us.  If God could only get on the same page that our dreams are written on, things would fall into place.

We don't ask for too much, just perfection, for crying out loud.  We want the perfect school experience.  We want the perfect best friend.  We want the perfect significant other.  We want the perfect littles.  We want the white-picket-fence perfect house. 

Why do you think Pinterest is so popular?  It gives a glimpse, even if it is just a fleeting one, at what life could look like if it were perfect.  If you had time to workout everyday, had the decorating skills to rival HGTV and cooking abilities to shock Gordon Ramsey.  We strive for perfection in almost every aspect of our lives.

Yet the worst place that we demand perfection is with people.  I have found this to be exceptionally true in my life lately.

I want a world without collision.  In a play called "Master Harold and the Boys," by Athol Fugard,  one of the characters compares human interaction to ballroom dancing.  


“Those are big collisions, Hally. They make for a lot of bruises. People get hurt in all that bumping, and we're sick and tired of it now. It's been going on for too long. Are we never going to get it right?...Learn to dance life like champions instead of always being just a bunch of beginners at it?”

But that's the beauty of Christ's work in our lives.  He enters as a savior to a broken world, but not to declare that the imperfections experienced by us are too much for God.  Instead, He sees the mess we've made of things and creates beauty from the ashes.  

Yet how easy is it to demand perfection of others while completely ignoring the struggles in your own life?  To see other's burdens, and instead of helping to lift them, critique them and advise them. 

Then I realize that the things that I'm calling them out for struggling with are the exact same things that eat into my life.

"I would never marry a guy with a horrible temper because I have a bad temper and I need someone to even me out."

"I would never go out with someone who struggles with envy because my struggle is envy and I need someone to tell me that what I have is good enough."

"I can't be friends with someone who struggles with __________ because I struggle with ______ and I need someone to call me out and be accountable with."

I'm desiring divine fulfillment through the channels of other children of God instead of through God Himself.  

We shouldn't be constantly yearning for the perfect girlfriend, boyfriend, family member, best friend or confidant, with who we can finally be ourselves and they can fix everything for us.  We shouldn't be looking for another person to 'balance us out.'  That's not what friendship, accountability, or marriage is about.  


What if we started interacting with people not for how they could 'make us whole' or 'fix our problems' but how we could find someone to struggle towards holiness together?  Instead of looking for the perfect guy/gal, realizing that they aren't out there. There is no perfect match who everything will work out with.  What if we desired to experience the same issues with someone and strive towards holiness with the same goals? To know each others struggles and not condemn, but encourage? To see the beauty in the immortal soul?  

C.S. Lewis once said, "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

What about with our relationships? Romantic and friendships? How does an obsession for perfection change those interactions? Matt Fradd had a beautiful photo that he wrote on that summarizes this fantastically:



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"The next date you will go on will be with a sinner, FYI. It’s interesting to me how a line like that—the one I just wrote—doesn't shock us. Nor do people feel ashamed when they say, “Hey, I’m a sinner.” But a sinner is one who sins, right? And I never hear people act so nonchalant about the particular sins they commit, “Hey, I’m a fornicator.” But back to your next date. Swap “sinner” with one of the following and notice the difference in your reaction. The next date you will go on will be a person who is a liar/selfish/arrogant/racist/a glutton/greedy/slothful/hateful . . . See what I mean? Sin sucks." Matt Fradd 

Darn it Adam and Eve, sin is here and will be until Christ comes back.  But that doesn't mean that all is lost.  Heck, we're all in this boat together - we've all sinned and fallen short of the beauty that God orginally had planned for us.  We're bumping into people like crazy down here.  We're bumbling around and trying to dance through life perfectly, but we're too busy yelling at people for dancing wrong to hear God telling us what steps go perfectly in time to the music of His plan. 
Should we strive just for the perfect? Surround ourselves with only perfect people and do only perfect things? You can try, but I'm pretty sure you'll end up discouraged, lonely and doing nothing.  So what is the answer?  Doesn't Christ Himself call us to be perfect?  He says so in the Bible in Matthew 5:43-48 - "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23278AX" data-link="(AX)" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;"> But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23279AY" data-link="(AY)" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;"> that you may be children<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23280AZ" data-link="(AZ)" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;"> of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23281BB" data-link="(BB)" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;"> Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
So are we called to perfection? Not in the sense that we will never stumble, never fall, never collide (if we could, we wouldn't need the sacrament of confession).  
God loves perfectly, with an Agape type love that has no conditions.  He doesn't keep a score card, tallying up the times we were imperfect so that he can punish us at the end of our lives.  Rather, He desires our good and our fullness, and loves accordingly.  
Our love towards our neighbor (ie, everyone in the world) should mirror His perfect love.  It won't be a perfect reflection because our sins get in the way.  But to look at other people and will the good of the other as other? That's striving for loving perfection.  We'll miss the mark.  We'll fall down, get scraped up and have to dust ourselves off.  
But there is beauty in the imperfection and holiness that can arise from the realization of our faults.  
Thank Heaven for a God who can love the imperfect perfectly. 

In Christ,

Chloe 

Christ's Wedding Day

Good Friday.  The day we set aside once a year to commemorate the death of Our Lord for our sins and the opening of the gates of Heaven for our salvation. We remember God, who took on human nature and all of it's messiness in order to spend eternity with us, His beloved children, and His beloved bride, The Church.

What if we thought of Good Friday as a a wedding feast in conjunction with Christ's sacrificial love?  In his book, Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, Brant Pitre examines the actual event of the crucifixion in the light of historical Jewish wedding.  He places Christ as the Heavenly bridegroom and the Church as His eternal bride.
In an earlier post, I wrote about how Christ yearns to be intimate with us, emptying Himself into something so simple as bread and wine so that He can physically be within our very bodies.  In Mass tonight, the Homily focused on Christ's desire for us to know God - to be intimate with Him.  Not just to know about Him, but to really know Him as the most important thing in our lives. 
In Biblical terms, the phrase "to know" indicates a physical relationship, or an absolute knowledge of the other. The Hebrew word is "Yada."  John  W. Ritenbaugh in his study of the old testament Hebrew language wrote, 

"At times, the Bible uses "to know" as a euphemism for sexual intimacy. Paul is not saying here [in Philippians 3:8-10] that he desires sexual intimacy with Christ, but that he greatly desires spiritual intimacy with Him. He wants to be so close to Him that he experiences the same level of life as Jesus did—even to the point of suffering or dying as He died, if that is necessary to be made like Him in every possible way. He desires to glorify God in every aspect of his life just as Jesus did."

 In Joshua 23:14, Joshua gathers the people to tell them about their relationship with the Lord.  "Behold this day I am going into the way of all the earth, and you shall know with all your mind that of all the words which the Lord promised to perform for you, not one hath failed. " 

In Luke 1:34, Mary's eternal virginity is emphasized with her lack of previous intimacy and full knowledge with any man. "And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?"

Christ desires to be intimate with us.  To have absolute knowledge of us.  In John 17:3-4, He prays to the Father before His passion. "Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do."  
And what is more physical than Christ's passion and death for our salvation?  He is betrayed with a kiss from a close follower, and then goes through the most physically excruciating death imaginable for a person in the fist century.  He is covered in His own blood, the physical life of His body (and the spiritual life of ours), and drags a wooden beam through streets crowded with the jeering of the souls He is on His way to die to save.  His body is fastened and hoisted in the sky, where He physically must thrust Himself up to fill His lungs. 
All the while, He thinks of you.
And when the crowds yell at Him to come down from the cross and prove that He is God, He thinks of you.  "I can't come down from the cross.  I have to stay up here for (insert your name) because one day, even if it's over two thousand years in the future, they are going to need me.  And how can I teach them of the beauty of suffering if I give up now?"  
And then, "It is finished."  There is a spear thrust into His heart that is so full of overflowing love for our soul despite how much pain we have caused Him that blood and water flow from His side.
Brant Pitre points out the significance of this final physical aspect of Christ's death. "So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept he took out one of his side (Greek pleura) and closed up its place with the flesh; and the rib which the Lord had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to man....so too Jesus falls into the sleep of death, and blood and water flow from his side (Greek pleura) And just as the miraculous creation of the first bride from the side of Adam is the foundation of marriage of man and woman, so the miraculous flow of blood and water from the side of Jesus is the origin and foundation of the marriage of Christ and the Church."
So Christ pours out His very life on the altar of the Cross on Good Friday, that supposedly dark day that ushered in the redemption of our souls from a debt that we could never pay off.  And the Catholic Mass taps into the eternal sacrifice at Calvary.

 In The Faith of Millions, John A. O’Brien said, "The Mass is the renewal and perpetuation of the sacrifice of the cross in the sense that it offers [Jesus] anew to God . . . and thus commemorates the sacrifice of the cross, reenacts it symbolically and mystically, and applies the fruits of Christ’s death upon the cross to individual human souls. All the efficacy of the Mass is derived, therefore, from the sacrifice of Calvary."

What will your wedding gift to Christ be?  A Sunday morning hour when convenient for you? He sacrificed His entire life for you...are you willing to do the same for him? 

Justin Timberlake and Love

This morning my little six year old brother Liam rushed into my room, waving a Valentine's Day card from our grandparents.  He was ecstatic, but also a little frustrated.  

"They spelled my name wrong!! My name isn't spelled L-O-V-E! It's spelled L-I-A-M!"  

And while this super adorable little man is needing some spelling lesson improvement, he's actually got a beautiful life lesson wrapped into his ability to only recognize the letter 'L'.

Although those in our family know us by our name, what we define as important, our passions and our jobs, we are so much more than that.  And we're more than our plans, hopes and mistakes.  

Because when God looks into your contrite heart, He doesn't see what you think makes you.  Your trip ups, your failings. He sees love.  He sees you - His Child and His creation...and His good.  But sometimes that unconditional and infinite love can be scary.  So we huddle in our plans and hide behind our will and what we perceive as our good.  

It's safe, and it's secure.  And when you take a break from all the security, you realize you feel completely and utterly alone.

And that's now how you were created to be.  Galatians 1:10 says, "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."  You don't have to impress people. We strive to follow and obey, and, in essence, fall in love with God.

There is a song that explains this b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l-l-y. And it's by Justin Timberlake. Didn't expect that combination, did you?

The song is called "Mirrors" and while it is regularly sang by a gentleman with a certain lady in mind, but my challenge to you tonight is to read through the lyrics and read it as if God and you are singing it to each other.

Aren't you somethin' to admire?

Genesis 1:31 "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good."'

'Cause your shine is somethin' like a mirror
And I can't help but notice
You reflect in this heart of mine


Genesis 1:27 "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them"

If you ever feel alone and
The glare makes me hard to find
Just know that I'm always
Parallel on the other side 


Hebrews 4:15 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin."

'Cause with your hand in my hand and a pocket full of soul
I can tell you there's no place we couldn't go .


Matthew 19:26 "Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible"

Just put your hand on the glass
I'm trying to pull you through

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." 

You just gotta be strong
'Cause I don't wanna lose you now
I'm lookin' right at the other half of me. 
The vacancy that sat in my heart
Is the space that now you hold 


Romans 8:38 "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love."

Show me how to fight for now
And I'll tell you baby, it was easy 
Comin' back here to you

John 14: 1-3 "
 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."


You were right here all along
It's like you're my mirror
My mirror staring back at me. 

Colossians 3:10 "And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator"

I couldn't get any bigger
With anyone else beside of me
And now it's clear as this promise
That we're making two reflections in one 

Song of Songs 2:13 "Arise, come, my darling;my beautiful one, come with me"

'Cause it's like you're my mirror
My mirror staring back at me, staring back at me.
Aren't you somethin', an original
'Cause it doesn't seem merely a sample
And I can't help but stare, 'cause
I see truth somewhere in your eyes


I can't ever change without you
You reflect me, I love that about you
And if I could, I would look at us all the time. 



Romans 5:8
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."


'Cause with your hand in my hand and a pocket full of soul

I can tell you there's no place we couldn't go.

Romans 8:31 "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"


Just put your hand on the glass
I'll be tryin' to pull you through
You just gotta be strong


1 Corinthians 1:25 "For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength."

'Cause I don't wanna lose you now
I'm lookin' right at the other half of me
The vacancy that sat in my heart
Is a space that now you hold


Romans 5:5 "And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

Show me how to fight for now.
And I'll tell you baby, it was easy
Comin' back here to you once I figured it out
You were right here all along.


Luke 15:20
"And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him."


It's like your my mirror
My mirror staring back at me.
I couldn't get any bigger
With anyone else beside of me
And now it's clear as this promise


2 Peter 1:4 "Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."

That we're making two reflections in one.
'Cause it's like your my mirror
My mirror staring back at me, staring back at me.

Yesterday is history. 

Psalm 103:12 "He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west."


Tomorrow's a mystery

Matthew 6:34 "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

I can see you lookin' back at me.
Keep your eyes on me

Baby, keep your eyes on me. 

Psalm 16:8 "I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand,<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-14101A" data-link="(A)" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;"> I will not be shaken."

Now you're the inspiration for this precious song.
And I wanna see your face light up since you put me on


So now I say goodbye to the old me, it's already gone
And I can't wait wait wait wait to get you home
Just to let you know, you are, you are the love of my life.  


You're my reflection, all I see is you

Songs of Songs 8:6 "Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame."


My reflection, in everything I do. 
You're my reflection and all I see is you. 

My reflection in everything I do. 

God has loved you at your darkest.  Your brightest.  Your best and worst.  And despite seeing you at both ends of the spectrum, He loves you and wants to spend eternity with you.

Will you open the door to your heart and let His love into your life?

Will you love Him in return?

Honesty Hour: It's Porn.

We hide things that we know aren't right.  It's human nature.  It's Adam and Eve hiding in the garden after they had sinned.  It's a child will hide a bad report card, or avoids talking about something that went wrong . 

"In an early preview of the sex-filled film '50 Shades of Grey' for a 'Today' show audience, the daughter of actor Don Johnson and actress Melanie Griffith nervously said, 'I don't want my parents to see it.'"

"I don't want my parents to see it."

Why would she hide her part in a blockbuster film?  Wouldn't her parents be proud of her fame?  Her accomplishment? Her acting abilities?  How she had followed in their footsteps into the entertainment industry?

She doesn't want her parents to see it because "50 Shades of Grey" -  regardless of how it is portrayed by celebrities, social media or reviews, is pornography. 
And we hide the things we know will disappoint the ones who authentically love us.

If you don't know much about "50 Shades of Grey," one of my favorite Catholic speakers and all around man after God's own heart, Matt Fradd, tells you 50 things about it that are quite good information to have. 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okcS6IW9VF0&w=320&h=266]

100 million copies of this book sold.  100 million souls looking for love.  LOVE.

How twisted is it that as a society, we are entertained by watching a man physically use a woman with skills he had to learn by visiting a sex dungeon.  On top of that, these were skills that himself was so ashamed of that he had to go take a shower before touching his wife and newborn child.

His wife and newborn child. 

To be living in a sacrament where you go home and you are called to sacrifice for your wife and for your family as Paul instructs in Ephesians 5:25 when he says "Husbands, love your wife just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her."

Yet to provide for your family you are participating in an entertainment source in which objectifies both men and women and distorts the something so sacred - human sexuality - the very act that brought your newborn child into existence is now perverted for the world's entertainment source.   

The closest human beings can come to on earth to reflect the Trinity is through sexual intercourse...so why wouldn't that be the thing that Satan attacks most viciously?  One of the most beautiful reflections of God's love for us, cheapened.

If we truly knew how sacred sex is - instead of the view that "50 Shades of Grey" tells us what sex "should" be. 

According to that book and screen play, sex should be controlling.  Manipulating behavior. 

That is the opposite of the beauty of sex that God created it to be.

Free.  Total.  Faithful.  Fruitful.

"50 Shades of Grey" paints a stark contrast.

Free?  Both the characters are held captive by their lust for each other's bodies and the pleasure they can give each other. 

Total?  How can you love the other totally when all you look to them for is what they can give to you - not how you can serve them? 

Faithful?  Christian talks about how many other women he's already been with....why should Anastasia be any different? 

Fruitful?  Is this relationship drawing both of them closer to Christ and His selfless love?  Is it open to life?  In fact, the relationship is draining the lives of Christian and Anastasia with each dip into further and further sin and damaging objectification.

A view into the destruction that can sink into lives ruined by abuse and objectification is found in the main character, Anastasia, who can be found on her bed in the last chapter of the book, crying because she has given her heart and body to a man who just wants her body.

Matt Fradd writes, "Some say, 'Yes, but being dominated and threatened is so much more exciting than faithful marital sex,' to me, that’s analogous the meth-head who thinks normal, un-high life is boring. In both cases I just want to extend sympathy."

Even the title of this book trilogy has two coins to it.  The first is a play on words from the last name of the main character, Christian Grey.  The second is more profound.

Anastasia claims the world isn't black and white.  It's surrounded by different shades of grey.

What does Christ say about that?  Is it really subjective to look at something like "50 Shades of Grey" and decide for yourself whether it's bad or good for you?  In 1 Corinthians 13:6, Paul writes, "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."

But the so called love on this screen is glamorous!  It's popular!  It's exciting! An escape from reality! Society raves about this new "Mommy Porn" as it's frequently dubbed.

It is unfair to demand that for all to guard their eyes against the harms of lust and visual pornography, and then retreat to erotic entertainment and the manipulation of emotions, hidden under the guise of "Romance" and a "Love Story."

All should be appalled and sickened if we overheard a conversation from people glorifying visual pornography.  If playboy magazines were strewn over and written into screen plays and people proudly downloaded pornography

That is a double standard and it needs to stop.  Right now.

Porn is porn.  Abuse is abuse.  Objectification (of both sexes) is objectification.

Seems pretty black and white to me. 

I'm more than a number

"I just turned 27 and my friends challenged me to go on 27 dates this year...all with different people."


"My first challenge to my daughter and her boyfriend was to take a break (taking a break is not the same as breaking up) from seeing each other and date at least ten other people.  I told them they were lucky because Henry and John made me date twenty different women!" - Stephen Arterburn, M. ED., author of Is This the One? Simple Dates for Finding the Love of Your Life.

There seems to be a rising trend in both the secular and more religious areas of dating society to cram as many dates as possible with as many different people as possible into a short period of time.

 Why? To get to know who you really want to marry.
There are many things I can say about this up and coming idea.  Yet to spare you the multiple conversations and choice words, a simply summary would be : I'm more than a number.

Stephen Arterburn founded New Life Ministries, which specializes in faith-based counseling and treatment.  His more common writings include Every Man's Battle, Every Young Woman's Battle and subsequent books in each series.
Yet his advice given in the above mentioned newest book misses the mark.  The basis of the multiple dating concept is that marriage is a risky ordeal.  Statistics are in his favor - according to the American Psychological Association, approximately 40-50 percent of married couples in the United States will be divorced.  If this is your subsequent marriage, your chances of a divorce are even higher.

How do you avoid being a statistic?  How do you know for sure that the guy/girl you are wanting to marry is the one?  Can you even be sure?

Arterburn is correct in his assessment that marriage is a huge investment.  In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines marriage by saying, "The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of of offspring: this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament."
Let's unpack that definition, since there is quite a bit of the Church's ingenuity in one sentence.  First, the use of the word "covenant."  This isn't just a "contract" - an agreement concerning things for the purpose of a mutual agreement.  If I contract my work out to you, and you hate my work ethic, you can fire me.  You are only held to the contract as long as I do what I promise what I told you I'd do.
No - the sacrament of marriage is a covenant.  Both parties of the covenant are promising to hold up their end of the deal regardless of whether the other person does or not.  If I don't like how you slurp your cereal in the morning, I can't back out just because this sacrament is difficult.  
There is incredibly gravity in the two words "I do." It is forever - the whole of life.  
So yes, there needs to be a sense of commitment and the knowledge of a cooperation with God's will.  But taking a break from your relationship so you can go date ten other people to make sure your boyfriend is the one?  I'm sorry, no.  Trial relationships?  There is no better recipe for disaster.  Saint Josemaria Escriva had this to say on the subject: 
"Love is a much surer, more real, more human reality.  It cannot be treated as a commercial product that is tested and then accepted or rejected on the basis of whim, comfort and interest."  
Six of the reasons below are Arterburn's arguments for on why so-called "Take-A-Break Dates" should be practiced.  Each one objectifies and reduces members of the opposite sex into a product for one to test drive before a sense of commitment can be reached.
Arterburn's Reason One: "If this is to be the only person you've ever dated and you want to avoid the regret of never having been on a date with someone else."

Call me old fashioned, but I thought that when you made the life commitment to someone in a marriage covenant, your life focus should be on how to get that other person, yourself, and your family to Heaven.  Not to reminisce on what it would have been like if you had went out to the movies with John Smith from your college class.  I can think of no worse way to show disrespect to the person you are with in a relationship.  Instead of focusing on the willing of their good as a child of God, you're going to "test the waters" with other people?  No.
Arterburn's Reason Two: "If you have been dating each other so long, the break would make sure you're not just so used to each other that you're mindlessly moving towards marriage."

In no way should the move towards marriage be mindless.  However, if your dating with a purpose, the purpose for which you are dating should be to find a spouse.  I may only be just hitting my early twenties, but I don't have to time to go out with guys I couldn't see myself marrying.  What about after you've made the commitment to marriage and you get used to each other?  Can you wander around and "test out" other relationships then?  I'm sure Arterburn would answer with a resounding no.  So why should you allow practice for that now?
Arterburn's Reason Three: If you have some doubts that need to be cleared up before you can move forward.

If you have doubts about your relationship, there are plenty of things you can do.  Ask a trusted married couple for advice.  Look into counselling with your parish priest.  Sit down and hash out what's on your mind.  Talk to each other.  Take a break from the relationship and do some serious discernment.  But to take a break from each other and go see other people to clear up confusion?  That would only create more confusion.  Is there more than one person on this earth that you can be compatible with and raise a family with?  Yes.  Do you need to go out with each of them to make sure you're picking the right one? No.    
Arterburn's Reason Four: If you met someone that just might be more right for you, this is a safe, non-confrontational way to take a break and take the date without deception.

This is probably the worst thing to do to your relationship.  How does this conversation go?  "Honey, I'm not sure if you're the right one for me.  I want to make sure we're a good couple, but I'm going to go out with other people to get a better sampling of the buffet.  Oh, and it turns out that I like so-and-so better than you, so I guess that's it!  We're not meant to be together."
Grow up.  If the relationship isn't giving glory to God and drawing you both closer to Him, then call it out and stop.  Don't date around under the facade of assuring your relationship status.  That's not called ingenuity, it's called selfishness and immaturity. 
Arterburn's Reason Five: If you feel so confident in your future partner you can take the challenge to prove it is as strong as you believe.

What would our reaction be if a young man said, "I feel so confident in my ability to trust God with my chastity that I'm going to meander around on porn sites to test it out and prove that it's as strong as I believe."  

No. 
"I'm so confident in my computer's ability to perform well as a piece of technology that I'm going to submerge it in water, drop it from heights and stomp on it just to prove that it is as strong as I think it is."  
No.

So if that doesn't work with other areas of purity and even physical non-animate objects, why in the world would you put a relationship through that?

Arterburn's Reason Number Six: If you are going to be geographically distant and you want the freedom to at least get coffee or go to a movie with someone else during the separation.  Remember, it is not breaking up; it is simply taking a break.

What happened to good old fashioned commitment?  When being in a relationship meant being in a relationship?

"Well, you're going to go on an extended business trip, so I figured I'd ask a couple girls out while you were gone so I can have some freedom."

Break up with him now, honey, he's bad news.
How can we expect marital fidelity when "taking a break" is encouraged when you're dating?
Both genders need to have more respect for themselves than this "take-a-break" dating allows.
Girls need to realize that they are not a number.  If a guy asks you out just so you can be number five of his ten dates necessary to find out if his girlfriend is authentic, back away slowly.  No, run away quickly.  If you think you need to go on twenty-seven dates just because you are twenty-seven, you've missed the point.  If anything,  as a young woman striving for holiness,  you should be so lost in God that a guy has to get closer to God to get closer to you. 
Guys need to take the initiative to man up in this situation.  Consciously evaluate your relationship and see if it is glorifying God and making you both better versions of yourself.  No?  Then it's time to move on.  Not take a break, move on.  
Want to ask a girl out?  Then do so only if you can see yourself marrying her. 
Can you find a long-term God filled relationship with the right person?  Yes.  But it is never found by test driving and objectifying other people.  
God bless,
Chloe M.