Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Feast of the Martyr, Saint Valentine!

Valentines day is fun. I love any opportunity to be completely ridiculous with my cheesy puns and pick-up lines, and I enjoy showing my appreciation for all my dear friends that love me despite my punny humor. I've spent every single Valentine's Day in my life perfectly single, and I still love it. I admit, at times I catch myself thinking about how it would be fun to have an admirer (and sometimes I have to resist listening to "On My Way" by Boyce Avenue - *cue emotional chastity lecture), but having an admirer would be fun every day of the year, not just on Valentine's Day. This is because I connect Valentine's day with a different kind of  love rather than romantic love. (My favorite valentines are from my mother. Seriously, isn't this the cutest?)

I do wonder what St. Valentine, a third century Roman martyr, would think of what has become of his feast day. His name is now connected to romance and sex, twisted into something far from the love that Saint Valentine truly represented.

Don't know much about Saint Valentine? St. Valentine was a holy priest in Rome at the time when there was an emperor called Claudius who persecuted the church. Claudius also had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people, based on the idea that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afriad of what would happen to their families if they were to die. Valentine secretly married couples and was eventually caught, imprisoned, clubbed, and beheaded because of his stand for Christian marriage.

St. Valentine represents a kind of love in which one lays down their life for another, a Christ-like love. While this holiday has been reduced to something much less than its true meaning, I choose to celebrate  the kind of love that St. Valentine represented and died for. I celebrate Christ's life giving love. And that is truly a reason to celebrate. After all, Christ is the...

No matter who you spend Valentine's Day with, I hope this day calls to mind the love of Christ. Happy feast day of Saint Valentine!

Love in Him,

Saturday, February 1, 2014

¿Quién causa tanta Alegría? ¡La Concepción de Maria!

In just five weeks I will be on a plane enroute to Nicaragua. 

Over ASU's spring break, I will be traveling with four Arizona State University students, and sixteen other students & FOCUS missionaries from across the nation to serve the poor on a FOCUS Missions trip to Nicaragua. We will be serving in a mountainous community on the northeast area of Nicaragua, Ayapal. This is where the Bishop of Jinotega has deemed 'most in need'. The community is just south of the border of Honduras. Some of the churches in this area are only reachable via horse or canoe, or simply walking long distances. Living and working with the people, we will be helping to build some of the chapels from the outside communities. The people in these areas lack much of their material needs. They are war-torn people from the recent civil war that ended only in 1992 and there are many families without the fathers and/or the sons as a consequence of the fighting. The need for the message of forgiveness and hope is what the people need and we will be there for them. 

Missions has truly grasped my heart. People often ask me, "When did you decide to apply to become a FOCUS missionary?" The answer is while I was on my very first FOCUS Mission, a trip to the Dominican Republic. There was a powerful moment as I crossed the muddy water from the Dominican Republic to Haiti, I watched the native people bathe while their children splashed in the awful smelling, cholera-infected water. Careful not to touch the water for fear of sickness, I thought to myself, “These people don’t even realize that they are swimming in infected waters.” I couldn’t help but wonder what my campus would look like if I placed a spiritual lens over my eyes. I suddenly saw my own friends unknowingly swimming in dangerous, infected waters of hopelessness, confusion, and sin. Translating the physical need of purification in the Dominican Republic to the spiritual need on my own college campus placed a sense of urgency and mission on my heart. I am so looking forward to seeing how the students’ hearts will be transformed as they serve and become a witness of God's love. 

The Feast of The Immaculate Conception is the patronal feast day of Nicaragua. The Nicaraguans call this feast "that of The Most Pure One", La PurísimaOn the feast of La Purísima, Nicaraguans honor Mary with songs, processions, and firecrackers. They call this feast day celebration, “La Griteria” which literally means "The Shouting." Year round, Nicaraguans greet one another saying, “¿Quién es la causa de tanta alegría?” (“Who is the cause of so much joy?”), and the common response is "¡La Concepción de Maria!" ("The Conception of Mary!") I have a deep admiration of Our Mother, and her receptivity to the Holy Spirit and her most beautiful fiat, so I am unbelievably excited to join in "La Griteria," shouting "¿Quién es la causa de tanta alegría? ¡La Concepción de Maria!" through the streets of Nicaraga. :)

Please keep us in your prayers as we prepare for this journey!

Love in Christ,

If you would like to donate towards my mission trip to Nicaragua please go to: