Category Archives: Rise Up

So, what’s the plan now?

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Hi, friends! So I just recently graduated from college and oh how happy I am! But there’s the lingering question, actually the never ending question, “So, what’s the plan now? What do you do now?” And the internal panic attack begins!

So many times in life we struggle with the transition into the next stage of life, whether from college to adulthood or pre-k to kindergarten and everything in between! If you ever feel like that, you are not alone!

So I brought my issue to prayer and also dug into my Bible to see what the Lord shares with us about transitional stages of life.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Hebrews 6:19

In all honesty, what I’ve discovered is that with every transition there is one constant feature: GOD! God has never left me in my path, and I don’t think he plans to in the future. With graduation season upon us, I invite all graduates and fellow transition buddies to take their fear of the future and of life, to prayer. There was a time in life when I had to admit to myself that anxiety is the cure for nothing, in fact, anxiety is just rumination expressing itself. Sometimes not knowing what to do next allows one’s soul to be open for adventure with God.  So, on your road to adventure, think of the following:

1.What sets your soul on fire?

We see the quote everywhere, “Be in pursuit of what sets your heart on fire,” or “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” These words are perfect reminders for us to question ourselves. What brings you joy? What sets a fire within your heart? Is it working with children? The church? Medicine? Whatever it is, pursue it and always ask God during each step.

2.What is the root of your fear?

The most repeated phrases in the Bible is ‘be not afraid’, but we do it so often. What is the root of your fear? Through my journey, I discovered one of the causes for my fear is a lack of trust in God. This discovery allowed me to open up fully about my fear.

3.Who are your cheerleaders?

Through this journey of transition, one of the biggest factors pertains to your circle or your squad. Who’s in your squad? Are they people that will put you to the top of the pyramid when needed and be a sturdy foundation? Will they be there for you, support you and tell you the truth at all times? The most beautiful thing about our love for Christ is that he is a man of relationships. His squad was amazing and though they struggled, they always had each other’s back.

So, as I sit here, a recent grad open for adventure, I invite you to do the same! Always ask yourself, what sets your soul on fire? What is the root of your fear? And who is in your squad? We have a hope as an anchor for our soul, let him steer the ship that allows you to welcome adventure with open arms!

Love God, love others, and love yourself. ❤

 

 

Present! The Best Gift

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Have you ever been in a room but really been a thousand other places? Your mind wandering through to-do lists and people you need to check in with and whatever you’re sure you forgot to do earlier?

I am the queen at this. Or at least I used to be. I’m trying to abdicate that throne.

Being present in the moment is so much harder than it seems. Especially in this day and age where our phones are constantly filling us in on what it happening outside of our present situation.

This and that celebrity are engaged. Your friends are at a party somewhere without you. Here’s how five fabulous people are doing five fabulous things that make you feel like you’re doing nothing spectacular at all.

It can be amazing to have all this information at our fingertips, but I’m learning there has to be a time to put it away. To just be where I am and not anywhere else.

The holiday season is on us – the most wonderful time of the year! For so many years, though, I’ve made the mistake of zooming past the wonderful. The awe of twinkling lights, the smell of tantalizing treats baking, the joy of family togetherness. I’ve made the mistake of bundling together those ideals, calling them “the holidays,” and then zooming past them as if they are nothing spectacular at all.

I got stuck in my to-do lists of projects and exams, shopping, baking, planning for family, that I forgot to actually take part in all of those things.

A parable Christ taught, a story in Chapter 13 of the Gospel of Matthew, tells of a sower of seeds. He throws out his seeds, very non-mindfully for some slightly unclear reason, and they land in a few different types of terrain. Seeds landed on rocky ground, were unable to root and died. Some seeds landed amongst weeds, the weeds stifled them and the seeds died. Lastly, some seeds fell to rich, soft soil. These seeds were able to take deeps roots and grow strong.

We typically view this parable in light of taking in the Word of Christ, in nurturing a safe place for the Word to land and take root in our hearts. But I think we can also learn to take in the joys of life in this same way. After all, God made all that is good, joy most included, and true joy is gifted to us all around.

During this holiday season, let us be rich, soft soil for the seeds of joy and love. Let us be open and present to the moment that we are in, not hardened by our own expectations of how we think the season might go. Let us be free from distractions, not stifled by the choking social media feeds and to-do lists.

Let’s be present. It’ll be the best present we give to others this season…. and also the best present for ourselves.

Listen Up, People!

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While watching the third presidential candidate debate, I was overcome by the frustrations I think a lot of us have felt this entire election cycle. Don’t worry, this won’t be a blog commenting on the merits or faults of either candidate’s platform or lifestyles. I think a lot of what has frustrated us, and what definitely frustrated me that evening of the debates, has nothing to do with either of those things.

As the candidates responded to questions asked, and then responded to each other, it really seemed like neither side was HEARING what the other said but rather just responding to how they GUESSED they responded, or to what they thought they MEANT by their response.

Now obviously as a voter wishing to best form my conscience, it was frustrating to not get to hear genuine replies to the questions raised. But it was also frustrating for me in a much grander way that night.

See, I think the climate of this cycle is actually a greater reflection of the problems in our own lives than we like to admit. How can I expect politicians to really listen and share ideas when I am surrounded by normal, everyday people, failing to do just that – myself included.?

I feel like our politicians, our neighbors, and, yes, ourselves, could use some reminders about listening and not just hearing.

“Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” James 1:19

“Fools take no delight in understanding, but only in displaying what they think” Proverbs 18:2

Listening to respond is not listening to understand. Let’s take some direction from the man himself, Christ. He knew that hearing was different than listening to understand. When speaking to the masses he said, “Hear me, and understand” (Mark 7:14, Matthew 15:10 to name a couple). So let’s try to do the same with each other. Let’s listen to understand each other’s approaches, sides, and ideals. We might realize we have a lot more in common if we did.

A Simple Nudge

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Today is a Tuesday that smells like a Monday. Most of us spent the long weekend enjoying our friends and families or putting in some extra hours on something laborious to prove to ourselves why we should appreciate Labor Day. Today most of us head back to school or work and begin the routine of the weekdays.

I have one question for all of us though. In the extra time we were given, be it just the holiday yesterday or maybe on Friday when we were supposed to seek shelter from the storm, how many of us took the extra time we had for prayer?

This is not a question replete with Catholic guilt (although it came out sounding vaguely familiar), but instead it could be a nudge. A simple nudge to use free time, new gifted time, as an opportunity to spend time with the Lord.

On Friday, I reveled in the extra time at home and we played Pokemon GO and ran around outside while we had no power inside. Monday I took the extra time to have a BBQ with friends and participate in a fantasy football draft. Other than my usual time in prayer, and obviously Mass on Sunday, I didn’t take advantage of that extra time. So my message is, indeed, a nudge for all of us, myself included.

Maybe you were smarter than me. TBH, I hope you were! Write to us and tell us what your extra time was spent doing and if any of it was spent Rising Up with the Lord!

“Don’t Define Me”

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Growing up we were all probably told the same thing, “Don’t let other people define who you are.” We all did (or do) our best to let labels like geek, prom queen, or emo kid roll off our backs. We live our lives as who we were, unashamed and unaltered by others opinions. Or at least my deepest prayer is that you do.

God made us all unique and we have to appreciate that this uniqueness is for good. So being anything other than your unique self is such a waste.

But what about faith? Do we allow the labels others place on our faith life define who we are and how we believe?

Faith is an incredibly personal thing. It’s weird because it is also extremely communal, but your relationship with Christ and how you express it is a unique flavor all its own. A label someone else puts on it should never define it.

Maybe you find comfort in extreme tradition. Devotionals, chanted hymns, or Latin might be your favorites! These might be the tools that allow you to grow deeper and deeper in love with our Lord and you may feel empowered by the leagues of saints before you who have done the same.

Perfect!!

Don’t let someone’s label change that – in any direction! If someone calls you “trad” it doesn’t mean you can never listen to Hillsong again in your life because now you have to live up to being the super traditional one. Conversely, if someone decides that to them you look like you are “bogged down in religion and practice” don’t let that take you away from the chanted hymns that bring you peace and closeness with God.

Maybe you are the complete opposite. Maybe you find faith in dancing to “Real Love” (Hillsong Young & Free) and speaking your own prayer out in a room full of people loudly praising God.

Awesome!!!

Same for you! Don’t let a label change that. Don’t allow someone who worships differently than you make you feel that your faith is “surface” or “not reverent enough.”

We have an awesome Church that provides wonderful structure to aid us in our pursuit of a closer relationship with our Lord and Savior. But in no way is that structure supposed to be something that binds us. There are countless ways within our church, on the full spectrum of traditional to charismatic, to dive deeper and deeper into faith.

Who we are is STILL unique in a perfect way. Who we are effects how we love and of course it effects how we express our love for God. Young Church, do not let other people define your faith. Go out and share your unique self and your unique love – God made it because He needs it.

“But You’re So Young”

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If there is one common phrase said to youth and young adults today, it seems to be this one. You’re leading a retreat? You’re teaching a class? You’re starting a business? You’re already moving up the corporate ladder?

“But you’re so young!”

It’s not said too often in the sense of congratulations but rather with a little shock and push back. Like how dare we be this accomplished while young.

I don’t know how you might react to this – but I start to play out a fantasy response in my mind (that I would of course NEVER say out loud).

“Yes! I’m so young. It’s because I’m young that I can rock this retreat, that I can lead this class with such excitement, that I have new and exciting ideas for a business enterprise, that I am so innovative and hungry that the bosses realize it. I am SO YOUNG.”

But there is nothing shocking about that to those of us in this age bracket. We see the amazing things our fellow “youngins” are capable of and excelling in and we are proud to be a part of that!

When it comes to our faith, we can get a lot of the same shock and push back. While many within the church are embracing and encouraging young involvement, some can seem to think church leadership is a thing for the elders.

1 Timothy 4:12 is the champion cry of youth and young adults in the church, “Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.”

We might be young, but that doesn’t mean we are new or green. It means we’re on fire. It means we have encountered our Lord in a more dynamic and charged way than many generations past. It means we can share that faith in new and exciting ways while building upon and respecting the traditional foundation of our Church.

Faith isn’t just for the elders – faith is for everyone! And those who are SO young need to take our place to show that we’re so young, but we have faith that can move mountains.

Rise Up

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The word “encounter” has been on my mind quite a bit in the last few weeks and last night a special guest drilled it in my head during our youth night. Before I give away the punch line, I’m going to take you on my journey with my more recent “encounters.”

Christmas Eve was a challenging day for me (as it can be for some) because as I was finalizing preparations and getting children dressed for Mass I was informed that my aunt was taken to the emergency room and would need emergency surgery. I sat, somewhat numb, for quite some time until the thoughts of all my encounters with my aunt began rushing through my mind. Being an Army family, we moved quite a bit and time with relatives was short but impactful. I remembered hanging with her in college, chilling with her at weddings, treasuring stolen moments with her in her New York City loft. Reading about her artwork and honors wherever her travels took her. Cleaning out my Nana’s apartment with her after the funeral. Listening to my parents fume over her political views. The way she sat so elegantly on my in-law’s porch during brunch the morning after my wedding. … Anyway, there have been lots. The next day, while celebrating the birth of our Lord with my immediate family (another encounter), my father tearfully told me that his baby sister was told she had a short time to live. So, now we plan for a final encounter.

On a lighter note, I have made a new friend: someone who I have known of for years, met on a few occasions, and will now be working with periodically. We made plans to meet for coffee and I was having a crazy day with my head overwhelmed by encounters – stressful phones calls, looming interview, emotional children, etc. – and within a moment or two my new friend knocked me off my self-proclaimed-stress-filled-soapbox and reminded me that I should be in control of me. While my head hurt from imaginary face slap, I felt immediately more at ease and quite a bit humbled. … A short encounter with such large impact.

Last night, during our youth night at church, we had a seminarian stop by, Fernando Chang, who was there to love us but also invite us to his church for a Night of Encounter with the Lord. His invite was not reading the details, but instead he shared a story of his first time flying solo on his quest to become a pilot and how the encounter he had with only himself in the cockpit and the challenge of being in control … how that one encounter has changed so much in his life since.

Rise UP events are queued to be this type of encounter … one that stays in your memory … one that has a lasting impression … and ultimately, one that is between you and Christ … because Christ WILL be there and hopefully you will too!

Rise Up

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5 Things You’ll Miss

When you get invited somewhere, people love to tell you all the reasons why you should go … Top 10 Reasons to Visit the Zoo, Top 10 Things to See in San Francisco, Top 10 Reasons Heaven is Better Than Hell … I could go on and on. You aren’t going to get that from Rise Up Nope, we’re going to tell you the Top 5 Things You’ll Miss when you don’t come to the April event!

1. Food Trucks! You might be thinking, “Big Deal – it’s just a few food trucks, I can always drive through somewhere cool,” but that’s where you’d be wrong! Food trucks aren’t just convenient, they are the newest foodie adventure! We’ll have a minimum of 6 trucks to choose from, which gives every taste pallet a chance to be satisfied. I guess you could always go to the town center or the mall and have 6 different restaurants to choose from, but then you’d also be missing the ambience and experience that comes from ordering a food truck meal fit for a food-blogging-snob and then turning around to play some yard games with hundreds of other people!

2. That’s right, you heard me … Yard Games! … you’re going to miss out on tons of fun yard games, happening on the large lawn right outside the auditorium. There will be four square, frisbee, cornhole, and more. Did I mention the DJ? Of course, we’ll have great music jamming while people are playing and eating … which probably means some people might be dancing. But a couple of hours of outside fun, food, and music before the main event even starts … you don’t mind missing that, right?!

3. Ike Ndolo! Sure, you could listen to his music online, but check out what some of his reviewers had to say (taken from iTunes.apple.com):
“Dope!” by Max drumz “Meaningful lyrics and Great sound! This is off da chainz!!!”

“Who knew Christian muzic could be so good!! This dudez got dem skillz!!” by Mixmasterjms

“All the songs on this album are so inspirational and Ike and his band are amazing. They performed at our church and it was such a blessing for them to come and sing to all the teens. Keep on rocking!” by CrazyCheese16

Ike and his band are the featured music for the main event and you’ll miss the chance to hear them live. Of course, who wants to hear a band live, to be able to jam with a thousand other people, and experience the passion of an entertainer by seeing it firsthand. Not you – you’ll miss it!

4. Mark Hart! If you really want to know who he is and how dynamic he is, watch this quick video. Or google his name with “The Bible Geek” and you’ll get a quick glimpse of his energy and eagerness to speak to all of you. Mark Hart headlines at most large youth and young adult conferences throughout the country, he heads one of the most successful youth programs for catechesis, and he has a fervent desire to help you along on your path to a stronger faith life! I have yet to meet anyone, young and old, who hasn’t been impacted by some truth that Mark has spoken. God uses this man as an instrument of His word and Mark loves to be that instrument.

5. An encounter with the man himself, Jesus Christ! Sure, we can encounter Jesus in our everyday lives, through many events and many people, but Rise Up is giving you an opportunity to do it with a thousand other people, through great music, challenging and dynamic speakers, and an opportunity for prayer through Adoration. Whether you’ve been given the opportunity to be in Adoration with the Blessed Sacrament or not, we’ve found a way to include this blessing in our event and we’re excited to share it with all of you! Our time of Adoration will be brief and will be at the end of the event, but I’m guessing you’ll encounter Jesus through the many people you’ll meet and the through the music and word you’ll hear!

Maybe after attending our event, you’ll come back to our site and submit your own blog of the Top 5 Reasons to Attend a Rise Up Event!

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