Monday, August 29, 2016

hello and goodbye.

Well, it's been a bit, hasn't it?

So much has happened...but isn't that always the case?

A lot has ended recently. High school, this summer, living in many goodbyes.

And here is another one...goodbye to this blog.

I started this blog four years ago this month, just before I started high school. Now, here I am, having just got out of my first college class and sitting in my dorm in many hellos.

And here is another one...hello to this blog. You didn't think it was really goodbye, did you!? With all of this newness, I felt as though it was time for a new blog as well.

Thank you for journeying with me for the past four years. My heart is so full at the thought of you, dear reader, continually keeping up with me...please don't stop reading! Your support means so much to me.

Please know of my continued prayers for you and whatever this year holds for you.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Life Changing Saint Quotes

Because I don't have a ton of time to write (getting ready for Catholic Youth Summer Camp, aka CYSC: SO PUMPED), I decided I'd share with all y'all some Saint quotes that have literally changed my life.  Please take the time to meditate upon each and everyone...they're fire (both because of the Spirit and just because) :).

“Temptation is necessary to make us realize that we are nothing in ourselves.”
– St. Josemaria Escriva

“Purity prepares the soul for love, and love confirms the soul in purity.”
– John Henry Cardinal Newman

“Don’t say, ‘That’s the way I am-its my character.’ It’s your lack of character. Esto vir!-Be a man!”
– St. Josemaria Escriva

“To defend his purity, Saint Francis of Assisi rolled in the snow, Saint Benedict threw himself into a thornbush, Saint Bernard plunged into an icy pond . . . You . . . what have you done?”
– St. Josemaria Escriva

“There is need for a crusade of manliness and purity to counteract and nullify the savage work of those who think man is a beast. And that crusade is your work.”
– St. Josemaria Escriva

“God has assigned as a duty to every man the dignity of every woman.”
– Pope St. John Paul II

“With all the strength of my soul I urge you young people to approach the Communion table as often as you can. Feed on this bread of angels whence you will draw all the energy you need to fight inner battles. Because true happiness, dear friends, does not consist in the pleasures of the world or in earthly things, but in peace of conscience, which we have only if we are pure in heart and mind.”
– Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

"Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe."
- St. Augustine of Hippo

"If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself."
- St. Augustine of Hippo

"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."
- St. Augustine of Hippo

"God loves each of us as if there were only one of us."
- St. Augustine of Hippo

"Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand."
- St. Augustine of Hippo

"Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."
- St. Augustine of Hippo

"Cast yourselves into the arms of God and be very sure that if He wants anything from you He will fit you for the work and give you strength."
- St. Philip Neri (my confirmation Saint)

"Humility is the safeguard of Chastity." 
-St. Philip Neri

"Do not grieve over the temptations you suffer. When the Lord intends to bestow a particular virtue on us, He often permits us first to be tempted by the opposite vice. Therefore, look upon every temptation as an invitation to grow in a particular virtue and a promise by God that you will be successful, if only you stand fast."
- St. Philip Neri

"Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought."
- Pope St. John Paul II

"Do not be afraidDo not be satisfied with mediocrityPut out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."
- Pope St. John Paul II

I could go on for forever, but these are some of my all-time favorite quotes from Saints.  Please keep me and all those going to CYSC in your prayers! I'll be sure to pray for all of you!

What are some of your favorite Saint quotes?

God bless,

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pixar & The Presence of God

I am a huge Pixar fan.  I'm more than slightly obsessed with each one of their films and, of course, their Pixar Shorts.  So when Finding Dory came out, I got so pumped.  Not only because of the improvements of Pixar's animation capabilities and the amazingly cute Pixar Short (Piper), but because of the revelation of "the ultimate easter egg."  Apparently, the "septipus" Hank has been in every single Pixar movie along with the other (much less hidden) easter eggs: the Pizza Planet van and the A113 number.  Of course, because this "septipus" has the ability to change its skin color to hide into its surroundings, Hank is very hard to find.  But just because we can't always see him, does that mean he isn't there?

Let's take air for example.  Can we "see" air?  We can see the affects of air on Earth as a whole, but we can't see air in itself.  Does that mean it isn't there?  Well, take a deep breath.  Exactly.  Of course it exists.  My point: just because we can't see something doesn't mean it isn't there.  As a matter of fact, many of the things that keep us living cannot be seen regularly or even at all.  Including God.

I think we can all agree that we rarely, if ever, see God.  If we ever saw His Fullness and recognized it, we'd die.  Shout out to Blessed Imelda (read about her here: ).

Because we are visual creatures, it is very hard to believe in something that isn't being seen.  AKA God.  The same applies to "feeling" God in our lives.  Many times in prayer we don't feel that "spiritual high" or that "emotion" where we can really sense that God is present.  While these moments are amazing and very beneficial, it is dangerous to place our relationship with God on an emotion. Why?  Because emotions and feelings come and go while God is always present.  If we base our relationship on a feeling or emotion then we will not recognize that God is present when these feelings and emotions are not.  And God is always present.

Imagine a friend standing by you with his/her hand on your shoulder.  Is he/she there?  Yes.  Now imagine the friend take the hand off the shoulder.  Is he/she still there?  Yes.  You may not feel the touch of the friend but that doesn't lessen his/her actual presence.  The friend is still there.  This is the same with God.  Because God is God and therefore must be present in and with all things, He is there.  We may not feel Him but that doesn't mean He is not there.  Are you alive?  If so, God is present.  Praise the Lord for His Presence!

President Abraham Lincoln says, "To believe in things you can see and touch is no belief at all; but to believe in the unseen is a triumph and a blessing."  Let us pray to have faith in this belief!

God bless you all,

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Crucifixion and the Value of Suffering

Before I begin, know that this post will be intense.  But so is life, right? 

I love deductive arguments, so I'll start off with one :).

Premise 1.  Our world worships pleasure.
Premise 2.  Christians worship Jesus in union with the Father and the Spirit. 
Premise 3.  Jesus is not of this world (John 8:23).
Premise 4.  We, as Christians, are not called to be of this world (John 15:19) and therefore the opposite of the world.
Conclusion.  Therefore, as Christians, we are not called to worship pleasure but are called to be more joyful in the opposite of pleasure than in pleasure itself for we are not of this world.
What is the opposite of pleasure?  Suffering.  Yes, I'm implying that one should be joyful in suffering: precisely because of its hidden value.  A value that lasts longer and has more worth than pleasure.  A value that is eternal life itself.  This value is the entire goal and purpose of our human life. 

When Jesus appeared to St. Faustina, He said, "If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering."

Pleasure as pleasure is not wrong.  God gives us pleasure because He Loves watching His Loved ones be happy, and through that happiness, worship Him.  But just because pleasure is good doesn't mean suffering is bad.  God doesn't enjoy watching us suffer, at least by the way many understand these words.  God allows us to suffer so that we may take part in the redemptive mission of Jesus on the Cross.  It is when we choose to unite our sufferings to the Cross that He "rejoices" in our suffering.  

We are called to continue the redemptive work of Jesus on earth.  To do this we must understand how Jesus ultimately completed it and how we are called to bring people to this completion.  Jesus fulfilled this mission on the Cross.  

Was the Cross pleasurable?  Did Jesus have fun or feel good on the Cross?  No, it was so stressful that just thinking about it caused Him to sweat blood.  

He was scourged by whips with metal hooks and sharpened animal bones, and even atheist historians believe that this scourging was one of the most brutal Roman tortures ever in history.  If you've ever seen the masterpiece The Passion you'll know what I mean.  And Mel Gibson even admits that he didn't make it as gory as it probably was.  

What about the crown of thorns?  The plant this "crown" is from is the Euphorbia milii.  This is known to have some of the sharpest thorns of any thorny plant.  This isn't even the worst part.  These thorns contain a sappy substance which is actually poisonous when taken internally.  Imagine when the thorns pierced Jesus' head.  Imagine how the poison would've been released into His brain

How about when He carried the heavy cross?  Scientists believe that the open wounds from the scourging would've clotted to the cross.  Imagine the pain of when Jesus fell.  Not once, not twice, but three times.  Every time Jesus fell, His flesh was torn open due to His blood clotting to the cross.  

What about the crucifixion?  7-9 inches of metal being driven into His hands and feet.  Because of the position of the cross, His body would've been contorted causing bones to dislocate.  Because of this position and the loss of blood, breathing would've become nearly impossible, eventually causing asphyxia and, of course, death.  

All this doesn't even include the psychological, or emotional, pain involved in the crucifixion process.  Seeing "God's People" kill God.  The ones who just a week before wanted to crown Him as King crowned Him with a crown of thorns and set Him off to die.  Jesus saw the agony of His mother at the Cross.  All but one of His closest friends betrayed Him.  He lay on the cross completely naked and exposed for the people to see and mock.  These are all just the smallest aspects of the emotional pain that took place.  

This is the suffering that won for us the freedom that we strive for: eternal life.  The salvation of billions of people all because of suffering.  We are called to unite our suffering to the Cross for the Salvation of souls by the act of "offering up."  By offering something up we place our suffering in God's Hands and ask Him to bring Grace out of this suffering.  This Grace is given to ourselves, for others, and for the salvation of the entire world.

Romans 5:3-5 completely nails the point of rejoicing in suffering.  "...We even rejoice of our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us." -Romans 5:3-5

Pray for those who suffer: that, if it be God's will, He will relieve them of their sufferings and show them how to suffer the way He desires.  

Thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who died in the Orlando shootings and also for the souls of those who died.  Eternal Rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may your perpetual Light shine upon them. 

God bless you all and know that I am keeping you in my prayers!  Please keep me in yours! 


Friday, June 10, 2016

Me Before You: Death Before Life

When I first saw the trailer of the movie "Me Before You," and found that my sister Annie wanted to see it, I decided I'd take her on a "date," as a sort of late birthday present.  I can really feel your judgement :).   As I heard and read about the hidden agenda in the movie, I decided there was a need to write something on it.

I honestly find its title to be quite ironic.  What I want before what You (God) want.  Jojo Myers, the author of the book, said that the title is "deliberately opaque – but I think of it as referring to each of them: It’s "who I was before I met you."" A
s the title of the book and now movie is opaque, they both also contain what may be somewhat opaque for many people.  Euthanasia.  

Before I go further into this issue, I want to let all of you readers know that this post is not meant to exhaust the issue of euthanasia.  It is meant to give a basic understanding as to what euthanasia is, and why or why it isn't wrong.  While it is just a basic overview, it will still be a long post.  Please bear with me. 

Funny story: when my brother and I were younger, we heard our parents pray for an end to euthanasia.  We both thought that there was something wrong with youth in Asia :).  If any of you readers are a youth in Asia, know that my mind has been deeply changed. 

Euthanasia is bad because life is good.  Euthanasia is wrong because life is right.  Euthanasia is immoral because life is moral.  Euthanasia undermines the dignity of life. 

What is euthanasia? It comes from the two Greek words "eu," meaning well/easy and "thanatos," meaning death. So it literally means an "easy death."  There is nothing wrong with an "easy death" in itself, but when applied and forced in the way that our culture and world have done so, issues arise of which I will get into.

Many would refer to euthanasia as "mercy killing" or "death with dignity."  This is how our culture would define euthanasia.  "Mercy killing" contradicts itself.  True mercy will always bear life for true mercy comes from Love.  Love must be fruitful (as in give life) therefore mercy must be fruitful.  Killing involves taking away life: in this case taking away even the mercy.  So all we are left with is "killing."  And killing is always wrong, in itself.  One could give the argument of the military killing in battle.  If any of you reading this are confused on this topic, I will write a post on it.  However, military killing and "just war" are not the topic of this post.  

As for "death with dignity," death is dignity! Assisting one to commit suicide or even the act of suicide by the subject does not add dignity! It lessens it for it is the purposeful taking of life!  Life is beautiful! Life has worth!  Life is sacred!  "Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being." -Catechism of the Catholic Church 2258

There is, as Pope Saint John Paul II says,  an "incomparable worth of the human person."  Our culture has become so oriented towards that which feels good or is pleasurable.  We do not find worth in suffering (me included).  But what was it that restored our own worth?  The suffering of Christ on the Cross for the Salvation of souls.  Suffering is beautiful!  As explained in "Evangelium Vitae" or "The Gospel of Life" by Pope St. JP II, our society has become unable to accept suffering, and care for those suffering, so we try to eliminate suffering and hasten the time of death.  Suffering becomes "the epitome of evil; to be eliminated at all costs." This points to what Pope Francis calls our "throw-away culture."  We see the weak and suffering as disposable.  We undermine the dignity of life.  So do we even have a right to take or assist taking another person's life when it is so magnificent? This leads us to the argument of the so called "right to death." 

The name "right to death" speaks for itself.  So the question is: do we have a right to death?  To choose when we want to die?  To take our own life?  If we accept any argument of the "right to death," we are taking away our "right to life."  I will present two arguments on this.  First of all, notice that the right to life doesn't say "right to life sometimes" or "right to a half-life," it says a "right to life." A life in its fullness.  The moment we apply the right to death, we are reducing the right to life.  One must fully exist by itself.  The two cannot exist together.  

The second argument I'd like to make is that all our rights come from God as given to the Governments of the world to enact.  Many would like to say that our rights come solely from man. After all, the Constitution did come from man and our Government is run by man (by man I mean mankind).  How easily do we as a country forget the words spoken by the ones who wrote the Constitution, as written in the Declaration of Independence.  It states clearly that all men "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights."  

Our rights come from God!  If they did not, there would be no absolute rights.  That which is not absolute is subjective.  If our rights do not come from God then they are subjective towards what the State desires.  They are subjective towards majority vote.  The majority has been very wrong in the past.  Fact.  Look at the racism of the world, especially the USA,  towards African-Americans: who are made in the image and likeness of God just like the white people.  Look at the slavery of the 17-1800s.  Issues have risen in the past and will continue to arise if we believe our rights do not come from God.  If all our rights are not absolute all is relative.  The country is run by the people and for the people. If all is relative, and there are so many ideas in this country, then we will be left with numerous governments.  We will be the DSA.  The Divided States of America.  My point: all rights come from God, an unjust right is not a true right.  God gave us all life: he gave us a right to life.  Not a right to death.  If He did we would not be alive for we would not be capable of exercising our right to life.  There is no such thing as a "right to death."  

Back to "Me Before You."  It has a message of death in the story of two beautiful lives.  Taking this further, it warps life as something disposable.  As something that only has worth if one sees it that way.  Life is not disposable for it is sacred and beautiful. 

If you or someone you know is considering euthanasia, know that I will be praying for you/them!  You are beautiful!  You are God's child and He will protect you!  Your life is sacred!  Your life has dignity!  I pray that you will unite your sufferings to the Cross, where your freedom was won!  Praise be to the Lord! 

I would like to end with another excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  "...An act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded."  This is in the section of the Fifth Commandment and of Euthanasia.  You can find the entire teaching here:

God bless you all and know that you are all in my prayers!  Please keep me in yours!  


Friday, June 3, 2016

Pacifism: A Loving Response

Hello, fellow readers of AM Station! My name is John Paul and, because it is against my nature to reject my wonderful sister, I will be writing the posts on this blog over the summer as my sister follows the will of the Lord at CYSC (Catholic Youth Summer Camp). Please continue to keep her in your prayers!

So, a bit about me.

Most importantly, I am Annie's favorite brother. Okay, that is probably a lie, but one can dream, right? I just finished my freshman year of high school at the school of home, so I'm looking forward (that's another lie) to my sophomore year! I am obsessed with Christian rap (yes, that is a thing) #hype #fire #romans116 #unashamed #onmy116 #HomeschoolerUsingHashtags.
My friends (yes I have friends, thank you) and I call it CRap :). My favorite artist is probably Lecrae, but my favorite non-Christian artist is probably Echosmith. I play the drums, I love to read (mostly philosophy and theology: I'm kinda strange if you haven't noticed), play sports (basketball all the way), and most of all adore my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There you go. A small snippet into the life of Anne Marie's brother.

Recently, I have grown hugely disappointed in our world, our country, our culture, and even my friends. I am sickened by our pacifistic attitudes. Before I go further into this, know that even I become pacifistic at times. I'm uncomfortable with the uncomfortable, so I choose what is comfortable for me. I become selfish even though someone needs to be challenged.

But what does it mean to be pacifistic? It, in itself, is fine. It means to be against war and violence. But when one applies this attitude towards something that is inherently wrong, and chooses to not challenge what is wrong because of not wanting to "hurt someone's feelings" or because "it's not nice to challenge someone" we fall into many issues. Imagine if the Allies were pacifistic towards Hitler during World War II? After all, it isn't "nice" to challenge someone. Or maybe if someone was physically or emotionally bullying someone who could not defend his/herself, isn't it "rude" to hurt the bully's feelings? Taking this even further, what about when someone sins (although the past examples are sin)? Sin is defined as "separation from God," making it very serious. Even the slightest sin should be challenged. But all of these are to be challenged with love because it is love that roots out sin.

Many would take love as to "not hurt someone's feelings." How I define love is "dying to oneself for the good of another." This is what true love is. It's unselfish, for as soon as it becomes selfish it becomes lust: the opposite of true love. Many times when I challenge someone, a friend will always tell me that I'm "not being nice" and that I'm "not being loving". I always respond that "love isn't always nice. And if I did not love them, I wouldn't even care to challenge them." I dislike challenging people (and by people, I am referring to actions, not them in themselves). But this is where I apply the definition of love I gave before. I die to myself by challenging another so that they can grow as sons and daughters of God. The majority of us have probably experienced growing pains: growing hurts! This is why many reject a challenge (including myself). It hurts to grow as people. It's uncomfortable for the one giving the challenge and uncomfortable for one to receive the challenge. Our culture is so oriented towards what is comfortable. To what is pleasurable. To what "feels good" in an instantaneous moment.

This video was made by the Family Policy Institute of Washington. If for some reason the video doesn't work in the blog format, here is the link:
It is a social experiment on identity and challenging another person.

My challenge for all who read this is to not be afraid to challenge someone who is doing something wrong. Whether it be gossiping, pride, selfishness, immodesty, impurity, etc. And be open to their challenges for you! This is how the world is changed! This is how the world become a better, more loving place! Pray for these people! Hold fast to God, and let your strength come from Him! As Alexander Hamilton said: "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."

God bless you all and know that I will pray for each one of you! Please please please keep me in your prayers!


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

This Summer

While the majority of high school seniors have the luxury of finishing up senior year and graduation while looking to a long summer of tanning, pool parties, and goodbyes...I am preparing to leave home in less than a month.

This summer, I am serving at Catholic Youth Summer Camp as a member of the Program Mission Staff.

Last summer, I attended CYSC for the first time and it was beyond anything that I could have ever imagined. Despite loving my faith, I was hesitant to go. I'm not about that whole rugged-rough-and-tumble-shower-with-spiders life. I wear dresses every day of the summer and high heels to go grocery shopping. 

But I went with an open heart. And God worked some mighty wonders in my life.

The thing that struck me the most about CYSC was the community. The staff members were so genuine, so loving, so giving...they seriously poured themselves out for everyone around them. They were so uplifting and encouraging. 

I had never been a part of a community that was so on fire for Christ. Jesus used those young adults to just love on me and lead me closer to Him, to ignite a passion in my heart to live for Him.

Because of the great impact the incredible staff members had on my life, I wanted to give back and serve as they serve. I felt God tugging on my heart to go beyond my comfort zone (ahh! no heels!) and get my hands dirty, bringing His heart to middle and high schoolers.

I am beyond excited to be serving the young church in this way. I am so looking forward to just loving on kids, to sharing my heart and my testimony. I am pumped to be spending the summer introducing kids to a deeper relationship with Jesus, and to growing in my own relationship with my Beloved.

God has been reminding me all of this year that what He calls me to, He'll provide for. So I keep reminding myself of that, even as spiders and bugs freak the heck out of me. Even as I'm the least athletic person in the world. Even as I won't be getting the most sleep. Even as I'll be living with other flawed (yet beautiful) human beings.

I don't understand why God is calling me to be at CYSC this summer. But I want to be used for His glory. I want to bring souls to heaven. I want to comfort the heart of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know that God has a plan and my deepest desire is to do His will. 

God is calling me out of my comfort zone. He is bringing me forth from my home and my family...and He has given me wings to fly. 

I would love to pray for you this summer. Please let me know how I specifically can do that!

Lastly, unfortunately, I will be unable to blog over the summer (end of May to the beginning of August). However, fear not, for I am planning on keeping a detailed prayer journal, so I will definitely be posting how God is glorified this summer upon my return. 

Praying for you always. And, seriously, hit me up with prayer requests!

CYSC is a high adventure summer camp for middle and high school students that seeks to foster a faith that is “deep, contagious, and joy-filled” and helps young people to live the adventure of their Catholic faith through an encounter with Jesus and his Church. If you would like to help financially support me in this mission, please prayerfully consider donating in one of two ways:
  1. Visit and make an online donation
  2. Mail a check payable to “Catholic Youth Summer Camp” with my name in the memo line.
Mail to: Catholic Youth Summer Camp
7881 Bluefield Street
Canal Winchester, OH. 43110
Missionary Support For: Annie Schlueter

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Eighteen: Everything Is Grace

I turned eighteen on Sunday.

Eighteen years, full of brightness and color, hurt and sadness, joy and discovery, betrayal and letting go, dancing and laughter...eighteen years full of grace.

Recently, I heard someone express pity for non-Christians, as the pain of their memories is truly all that there is for them, it's all that they see. But, as Christians, we are graced with the ability to see God at work, even in our toughest moments.

So I have taken to thanking God for the painful moments in my life. Not just the kind of painful, hard moments...but the kick-in-the-stomach memories, the ones the knock the wind out of you and bring tears to your eyes even after all of these years because the things that happened were genuinely wrong. The hurt that you felt was real and you weren't just overreacting or overly emotional...those times when you were shaken to the core and wondered what the point of anything was.

I have a tendency to just shove those memories away under the guise of "here God, take my life!", when in reality, I'm just holding on even more tightly, because what is He going to do with them? Do I just have to forget? I want to forget...but I don't want to let the person go unpunished. I want to keep being angry and bitter and hurt, because that's how that person deserves me to be.

Especially when the pain isn't acknowledged, when it's side stepped with a "get over it" or a "you just need to forgive and focus on your own faults"...especially when no one is there, when no on stands up for you feel like you have to battle on your own. I have felt like it's just me against the world, and God is there to be the cheerleader. It's up to me to fight and get all bloodied up.

When in's me fighting against myself. My actions aren't affecting the people who have hurt me...I'm the one who is dealing with them on a daily basis. They are just causing more and more hurt.

So, within the last month, I have intentionally been going back to those moments when I've felt my weakest. And I have been asking Jesus to just flood those moments with His grace...for in my weakness, His power is strong.

Through His grace, I have been surrendering more and more each day. There is something so validating about our pain. We cling to it and nurse it, but don't do anything to eradicate it. In a sense, we want it to define us. We like to feel bad for ourselves and to be justified in feeling badly about others who cause hurt.

Friends, we are children of God. We were not created to suffer. God allows it because He gives us a free will and there are merits and graces that come from suffering, but this kind of suffering is ridiculous and self-centered. Jesus Christ was BRUTALLY MURDERED so that we could be free of our identity of hurt...and come to cling to our true identity as His bride (the Church!), as God's children.

We don't need to hold on to our pain. We can surrender it to a God who is in control. He knows our pain, He sees it...and He feels it, right along with us. He cries with us. He doesn't tell us that our hurts don't matter...He tells us that He's sorry. He tells us that He loves us. His promise of "it's going to be okay", isn't empty because He literally died so that it would be even more than okay...that it would be true, good, and right.

So, let's let go. We don't have to battle. He fights for us...and He has already won.

1 Peter 5:7 tells us to "Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you." What a beautiful truth.

Every moment of my life, every pain, every's grace. It's through the grace of God that I'm here right now, that I was created, that I'm surviving. Every single moment of my life has been flooded with His grace, whether or not I've seen it. Moments of pain are made beautiful in the light of unending, explainable grace.

God's grace is alive and well...God is on the move and He has been working in my life since day one. Because of grace, I can call pain and suffering "beautiful" because I know that my Daddy has a plan. More than that, I know that He cares for me. He loves me.

This moment, right now, this is grace. These words...they are grace.

Eighteen years of grace. That is the story of my life, ultimately. I am the beloved of the Son and the daughter of the Father and my life is grace.

So is yours.

I'm praying for you.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pure Insanity: An Autobiography

Well, it could be an would be a seriously accurate name for mine.

It's probably a little too late to inform y'all that the A-Z Challenge was a huge bust for me this year, seeing as it's been days since I've posted.

I didn't really think things through well when I signed up...this month has been predictably crazy, between finishing school (papers and quizzes and more papers and more quizzes!), preparing for this summer, figuring out next year, and turning eighteen...I'm going insane.

God has been moving in my life in mighty ways, friends. I cannot wait to share with you.

But for now...know that I will continue this theme, though at a much slower pace. These topics of high school lessons are a really big deal for me, and I want to take adequate time to think and pray, not to mention write, them. So, please, stick around.

Know of my unending prayers for you, brothers and sisters. The fact that people read these's insane.

I'll be posting soon about what exactly it is that I will be doing this summer as well as where I am headed off to next year.

Much love!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Divine MERCY Encounter

So excited to be doing the A to Z Challenge for the second year in a row! I will be posting each day (besides Sunday) this month. I'll be posting things I've learned throughout high school.

A year ago this weekend, I made a DME retreat in my hometown of Erie, PA. It was insane.

A little background on the retreat...DME (Divine Mercy Encounter) was originally TEC (To Encounter Christ). My dad's parents were actually influential in bringing TEC to Cleveland, and my mom helped in bringing TEC from Cleveland to Erie,  before she even knew my dad, which I find slightly adorably hilarious. My parents both helped in running the retreats in Erie years ago, before I was even born, and remained involved when I was little. Needless to say, I was excited about making this retreat as my family had been a big part of it.

A little background on me going into the had been an interesting school year. I had finally committed to praying every day in January and was heavily discerning God's will for my life and how to let Him influence every part of me. I was coming to grips with a lot that had happened to me before I had let Jesus into my life in a radical way.

I was realizing that I had a lot of hurt that I was holding in...pain I had been clinging to, thinking that I was stuck with it forever. I was also realizing that I had a lot of people to forgive. And I felt so lost, because I didn't know where to begin or what forgiveness even looked like.

So. I went on this retreat, expecting great things, but unsure of what exactly those things would be.

I could never, ever could have been prepared for what happened.

I got to this retreat and was immediately so blessed by the people who were working it. I had grown up with a lot of these wonderful men and women and it was incredible to journey with them towards holiness for the weekend (and even beyond).

At the retreat, we were separated into groups, and one of my group leaders was an amazing woman from the school I went to my freshman year. Anna's joy rooted in the love of Jesus was so tangible and I saw God in everything that she said and did. She listened and talked to me like I was the only person in the room. That’s how she treated every single person she came into contact with. We shared so many tears, so much laughter, and an insane amount of love.

Anna's love for me broke a lot of chains that were holding me back. I was carrying a lot of hurt from feeling rejected and alone freshman year, and God totally used her love to heal me. Not only did He use her love, but He used the love of a few other girls on retreat also from the same school. They showed me the love of Christ by encouraging me, by accepting me, by loving me...not for anything I said or did, but just because of who I am.

All those at DME showered me with Christ's love. They treated me as a beautiful, new creation...someone worthy of love. People I had never met as well as people I hadn't seen in years took time to show me that not only was I lovable, but that I was worth loving. Through words and actions, people showed me that I show them Jesus Christ, simply by being myself.

That just broke down so many barriers that I had put up. I had become so bitter towards so many, including myself, I had lost faith, I had lost trust...and the LOVE of this community showed me the immense MERCY of Jesus and melted everything else away.

I was okay. I was made new, I was emptied. I remember being in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and just being. Just praising Him with every part of me. Resting in His love.

I encountered Mercy in a new, personal way that weekend. I encountered a God who accepts me for who I am, because that is who He created me to be. I encountered Love, who takes my hand and leads me forward without a mention of what is behind. The community at DME showed me that I am not alone. Not only do I have Jesus Christ living inside of me, but I am not by myself on this journey.

I was so overwhelmed by the love and mercy of Jesus Christ that weekend. I was so overwhelmed by His sacrifice for me...and His love exploding in my heart. I began recognizing Him in every memory, especially the painful ones. I saw how this community was loving my heart to life and the immense power of this love.

I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay in those community rooms forever, just praising Jesus and growing in community. I literally felt sick to my stomach the last day...because I had encountered mercy. I had encountered love. I had encountered friendship as Christ intended it to be: pure, selfless love.

But the cool thing about the retreat is that I'm still on it. I'm still living the Fourth Day, as it is called. And on this Fourth Day, God has put into my heart a desire to just bring everyone this love and mercy I experienced at DME. I can't imagine having ever lived without it and I can't bear to think that anyone could think him-or-herself unloved.

This retreat set a deeper fire in my heart for Jesus and set the stage for some incredible experiences that I had later in the year. Honestly, though, all of the amazing things God has done in my life since then would not have been possible without DME...God removed so much pain and sorrow from my heart in order for me to truly love and be loved.

All I want to do is love on people. Not that I don't get annoyed with certain ones or hurt by others, but I just want to love. I want people to look into my eyes and see the attentive, personal love of Christ. I want people to read my words and come to recognize the mercy of God.

Our love has power, friends. You were created in the Image and Likeness of Love Himself...what a priceless gift. You are loved and you are given love to, well, love with.

Let's let Jesus love through us, pointing towards His infinite mercy.

I'm praying for you always.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Kick Butt & Learning to be Tender

So excited to be doing the A to Z Challenge for the second year in a row! I will be posting each day (besides Sunday) this month. I'll be posting things I've learned throughout high school.

*conjoined K and L post*

I am sassy person. Which I'm sure comes as a surprise to all of you.

Please, allow me to share with you a moment when the Sass and Savage of Anne Marie Schlueter was greatly manifested. 

It was sophomore year. If you've been following this month, a lot of heartache went down sophomore year. It was a time in my life when God showed me a lot...which paved the way for a lot of spiritual growth. Which is awesome. Just not in the moment sometimes.

Anyway, sophomore year. There was this guy I knew who was kind of being a drama queen about me not liking him, which I wasn't handling well. After months of ridiculous drama, I found out that he had been telling people that I had called him a really really really really really bad word.

Funny thing...I hadn't even known that said word was a word. Therefore, I couldn't have said it, obviously. 

By the end of the day when the rumors were going around, I was ticked off to the point of tears. I was honestly not a jerk (usually) and appearances were huge to me-- the Perfect Little Catholic Girl did not use such language. 

So I was in the hallway after school when yet another "Hey Annie, I heard what you called--"

And I snapped. Tears burning my eyes, I threw my backpack across the hall and smack into the wall. My friends looked at me, aghast, trying to calm me down. But it was too late.

"I'm going into the work out room. Come with me." I knew that this guy was in there and I was absolutely done. Y'all do not want to see done Annie. 

So, I walked down that hallway. I remember exactly what I was wearing: cotton blue skinny jeans and gray high heeled boots that made an awesome sound when I walked. My hair was curled. I was mad. And I looked like a boss. 

I threw the doors to the work out room open and stormed inside, Black Widow style. I bellowed his name for everyone to hear. 


"Could you go away," he mumbled, lifting weights (that were probably four pounds). 

"Because Hannah told me you said--"




Boom. Turn. Sass walk back out of the room. Followed by my back up singers friends. I feel like the conversation (aka me yelling) was actually much longer, but that's the basic gist.

Awkward side note: my Theology was actually present during this whole show down and I was absolutely certain that he was going to kill me the next day. But he didn't...he actually told me that I did a great job. And then he told a bunch of the other teachers...and the president, who all applauded my sass. Awkward awkward awkward.

But had I actually done a great job?

I had an image in my head of this Scarlett Johansson version of myself, not taking any crap from anyone. I know that there are times when we do need to stick up for ourselves. Sometimes we do need to be the ones to take on the dragon and go all gangsta on the world. But had that been one of those times that warranted the machine guns? 

I really don't know if my little (big) scene was good or bad. I don't think my intentions were good-- they were pretty selfish, to be honest. I didn't want people to think badly of me because what people thought about me, defined me. Also, I was actually being a drama queen and wanting people to talk about me for doing something kick butt.

I wanted to be seen as being in control of the world. Perhaps I even wanted to prove to myself that no one could talk like that about me and get away with it.

In my "big confrontation", I was so worried about how I looked. I was worried about how people perceived me. I was putting on this big ol' kick butt show because I wanted to show that I was tough. And that's what everyone saw and talked about for a while after: a girl who is tough, who shouldn't be messed with.

But if they would have kept watching...they would have seen a Broken Little Not Perfect Catholic Girl who sobbed the whole thirty minute drive home. They would have seen a girl who didn't talk to her family that night and who cried herself to sleep. Because she was genuinely hurt by the rumors and upset that she was so hurt by them. She regretted her screaming, she regretted her display of kick buttness.

You know what I have discovered is even more kick butt than being kick butt? Tenderness. Take a look at this picture: 

The Virgin Mary Consoles Eve

I love this picture so much. On the left stands Eve, who is naked and ashamed. She's ashamed of herself, ashamed of her sin, ashamed of the mess that she has created. The snake (Satan) is wrapped around her leg, still trying to claim her as his own, to draw her even deeper into his deceit. A lot of times, I really feel like Eve here.

Mary, the Mother of God, stands simply in front of her. Her eyes are full of emotion, dripping with love and the desire for Eve to be free. Eve's gaze is turned sorrowfully downward, but Mary's eyes don't look away. Her sinless hand touches Eve's shame-filled face and her hand brings Eve's touch to rest on her Savior.
The best part is at the bottom of the picture, where the most kick butt thing ever is going on. MARY IS CRUSHING THE HEAD OF THE SERPENT. Satan no longer belongs, he no longer has control here. Love has won.

To me, this is how I want to be kick butt. I want to see the real enemy (Satan, not Eve) and take him out. And how does Satan get taken out? Let's look at the suffering and death to self. By love.

Obviously, love doesn't mean we have to throw our personality out the window! I'm betting that I'll probably be sassy my whole life. But I don't want to use my sass to act like some crazy tough superhero...I want Jesus to use my sass to bring Himself glory. 

We don't have to act like we have it together because we don't. We don't have to act like we're in control because we're not. We don't have to hide behind masks because not one of us is perfect, so we can all be imperfect together.

Tenderness. The world needs more of it in this culture of "every man for himself". What if we, instead of getting mad at our enemies, treated them the way Mary treats Eve in this picture? Can we look at those who have hurt us with the same love and respect? Because that's what we're called to do. 

The thing about my display of rough-and-toughness sophomore year was that it pointed directly towards me. I was SO MAD at this guy for lying about me, I didn't want people to think badly about me. The thing about tenderness is that it points towards something greater.

I didn't even stop to think about what might be going on inside this guy's heart, his head...what issues with other people might be influencing his actions towards me. I thought I could snap in a z formation and, boom, problem solved. But in reality, it created more hurt and drama. 

If I would have extended forgiveness, if I would have love this person not because of how he was treating me but because of who he was in I think that would have had a greater impact than any amount of sass walking and screaming could have. 

So, my dear brothers and sisters, let's embrace tenderness. Let's look on people with love and understanding. Let's be Mary in a world full of Eve. 

Let's bring Jesus to a broken world.

I'm praying for you always.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


So excited to be doing the A to Z Challenge for the second year in a row! I will be posting each day (besides Sunday) this month. I'll be posting things I've learned throughout high school.

Joy is a slippery word. It's not happiness and it's not a's something much deeper and longer lasting.

I always wanted to be joyful. However, I used to not know what that meant, so I kind of gave up on it for a while. There have been many periods throughout the past three years when I allowed the stresses of school, family, and friends to rob my joy. It wasn't even a fight-- at the first sign of struggle, I threw my hands up and out went the joy.

Joy. I used to think it was something you had to work towards with everything you have in you. I thought it was an attainable virtue, and without it, you weren't a Good Enough Christian. And, unfortunately, a lot of the time, I just didn't care because it was too hard.

I had tried so many times to be joyful. No matter what I did, I could not be joyful. Sometimes, life's stresses were just too much. I felt like they were crushing, that they couldn't be figured out. And until they were figured out, I couldn't be joyful.

So I wasn't.

After I realized Christ's intimate love for me sophomore year, my life began to undergo a lot of changes, slowly but surely. One of these was giving up drama.

"Wait!" exclaims you, the confused reader. "I thought this blog post was about joy!"

"Hush," returns I. "Keep reading."

Anyway. Before letting Jesus really transform me, I had a drama addiction. I ran on gossip, telling and listening to it. What else was there to talk about, besides everyone else's problems? Also, I felt the need to share my problems with other people who really weren't involved. I was looking to fix everyone else and be fixed by everyone else. It's a hard cycle to break.

I'm all about telling our personal, transformative stories. But we have to look at the context as well as our intentions. Are we sharing our stories because we want to point to the love of Jesus? Or are we pointing to ourselves?

I let my thirst for drama overtake my thirst for joy. Not only that, but y'all-- I'm a control freak. I have a tendency to think I need to fix everyone and everything and that it all comes down to me, every failure and every success.

Haha...yeah right. So not true.

I had a really hard time trusting God with everything. Every moment, every relationship, every test, my future...all of it.

And yet I wondered why I was not joyful.

Well, here's the deal: joy, like every good thing, is not something that we can just go on Amazon and order. That's our attitude towards it sometimes, isn't it? And it's also not something we just obtain by being really good and never getting mad at everyone.

Joy comes from God. It's a gift; like grace, it isn't something we earn.

Slowly, as I began surrendering more to God, I began receiving His joy. I have discovered that it is when I am aware that I am out of control and know the least about my future that I am the most joyful. The world would tell me, in that instance, that I should be seriously concerned. But why should I worry when I have the heart of the One who has conquered death!? I would so much rather He be in control than me.

The less of us and our stuff that clutters our hearts...the more of God and His joy. We can't receive His joy (or any of His other goodness!) when our hearts are cluttered. So, we must pray to be receive the graces to open ourselves to receive His joy.

This joy is so powerful that it can be clung to in the hardest of times because true joy is not rooted in current circumstances. True joy is rooted in Jesus Christ and His victory over the grave.

A moment of tangible joy in my life occurred quite recently...but it counts because I'm still in high school for the next month.

Friends, I have had a disappointing past couple of months. I felt like God was calling me to give a year up to Him doing missionary work in the US with an organization that puts on middle and high school retreats. I was so, so, so excited about this...I applied and interviewed and THEN...was asked to reapply in a year or so. Although I strongly knew in that moment that this was God's will, it still hurt.

Then, looking at top college choice, Franciscan University of Steubenville, was incredibly out of my price range and is kind of known for not giving a whole lot of scholarships and financial aid. I was still hopeful, though, knowing that if God wanted me there, He would provide. After I received my financial aid package, I found out that it wasn't going to be enough. I know that this was part of God's will. It still hurt.

That same day, I was asked to be a counselor for a week at an amazing Catholic summer camp. Which was awesome...except that I had applied to be a staff member for the entire summer and really felt called to it. So once again, I accepted this as God's will and continued to hurt.

When God shuts doors, He still invites us to have joy. Because He is always, always working, as long as there is air in our lungs and even after that.

But y' still hurts. I'm still figuring this life thing out. Even though I might be better at some things than others, I still struggle. I was really struggling with joy in these moments. I was doing everything out of a desire to serve God-- why wasn't He coming through and opening these doors I was trying to walk through?!

The day after I found out about the summer camp, I stopped crying, got out of my bed, and got dressed, thinking about the story of David in the bible, after God punishes him for his lack of purity and murderous actions by taking his son. While his son was sick, David mourned and wore sackcloth and fasted, but when he died, David rose and dressed and ate. When questioned about this, he said that when his son was alive, there was still hope of him not dying but now his son was dead and so, life must go on. Essentially, God gives and takes away.

God gives and takes away. With this mindset, I just said to Him: "God, I am on empty. I literally cannot be joyful and I do not even want to be joyful. But Jesus, you give me joy, so-- I surrender my pain and my illusion of control. Fill me with your joy."

Bam. Joy. Literally, in that moment, I was filled with so much peace and joy and the awareness that God was not finished. This joy did not come from any person and it did not come from my surroundings...if it did, I probably wouldn't have gotten out of bed.

Less than an hour later, I received an email. This email was from one of the camp guys, inviting me to be a part of the Program Mission Staff. WHAT?! That kind of stuff doesn't happen!

Except it does-- because God has a plan. He knows what He is doing. I found out about staff just when I was supposed to...and I'm so glad I did. I felt like in that moment, before I asked for joy, Jesus had asked me: "Do you trust me? Then get out of the boat and come to me."

In that moment, my boat was lack of trust and self-pity. But God invited me to give that up for His peace and joy...and by His grace, I was able to walk upon the waves. He is so cool.

What is the boat that is preventing you from reaching out to joy? Brothers and sisters, let's let go of ourselves, of our control, and of our drama. God can do some pretty amazing things-- let Him be your drama fix.

Don't be discouraged when joy doesn't come immediately-- sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. But in everything, ask the Lord to fill you with His perpetual joy. There are still many areas in my life where I struggle with joy. But I have hope that God is working in these areas and opening my heart to receive a greater joy.

Together, let's get out of the boat and run to joy.

I'm praying for you always.

Monday, April 11, 2016

I'm Going To Tell My Stories

So excited to be doing the A to Z Challenge for the second year in a row! I will be posting each day (besides Sunday) this month. I'll be posting things I've learned throughout high school.
I used to be incredibly afraid of telling my stories.

I didn't want to relive the pain that I had experienced through certain events and I didn't want to make people upset. For most of high school, I didn't really tell my stories-- at least, I didn't share the ones that were hard to communicate. And a lot of the time, when I did share, it was in a really gossipy way.

That's another big thing I've learned in high school. If you're hesitant about saying something, don't say it. It is so, so, so easy to fall into the trap of gossip. I'll be honest: I like excitement. A lot of times, in high school, gossiping provided that drama rush for me.

What I was really looking for, in all of the gossip, was for someone to understand whatever it was I was going through. But the thing is, the excitement fades. And sometimes, people said really great things in response...but it was never the perfect thing.

A reoccurring theme in my high school story seems to be me trying to use people to fill my heart, rather than God. It. Just. Doesn't. Work.

Anyway, I was all about telling the superficial stories of  "did you hear what she said?!" and "I can't believe he did that to me!". I talked all about things that didn't actually matter, in the long run.

Understandably, it was hard for me to talk about real, meaningful experiences. I've written before about the insecurity brought on by being bullied in grade school. I felt like when I shared my stories, I did it to be validated. Sometimes, that is what happens. But when I wasn't validated, when I didn't get the reaction I was looking for, it devalued the story. So, mostly, I just shut up.

It really wasn't until this summer that I really began telling my stories: sharing my testimony of discovering Christ's love for myself, talking about moments of extreme pain, and communicating the wonderful joys that I have experienced.

What caused the change?

 Within the span of two months, I went on an incredible retreat and then attended a life changing summer camp (more on both of those later!) and I realized that I was not alone. My mindset was that I was alone and I messed up and had to just work at it on my own and God could help too. But God used these people's love to bring me closer to His love and heal my heart.

I came to see that other people had experienced similar sufferings...and that our stories have power. I know I've already written a post on that, but it is SUCH a powerful topic that we need to understand. Our stories are nothing to be ashamed of, but are evidence of God's grace working in us and through us! THEY ARE THE KEY TO DEFEATING SATAN! Just take this verse:

"They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony." --Revelation 12:11.

Our testimonies are powerful. I'm going to go out on a limb here and be totally original and non-cliche: with great power, comes great responsibility. I think that there is a time and a place for our stories and what we share with some people might be different than what we share with other people. And that's okay. To everything there is a season.

That is why, friends, we need to give our stories to God and stop thinking of them as "ours". In reality, our stories make up a much bigger one. His.

When I started telling my story of beginning to let God love me, I never could have imagined the wonders that He would work out of my brokenness. Recently, I was helping to lead a retreat and I gave a talk on discovering my identity as a daughter of God, where I shared a more in-depth version of this story.

Later in the day, there was an opportunity for prayer ministry, and this girl came up to pray with me. What she said gave me chills...she told me that what I had talked about was exactly what she was currently going through, in feeling not enough for God and trying to be filled with other people. WOW HOW INSANE IS THAT?!

During our time of prayer, the Holy Spirit was so present. He just came upon us and I could feel Him opening this girl up...I am so excited for what He continues to do in her life. There was another part of my story that I have only shared very selectively that I talked about that day...and another girl came to pray with me who, again, was struggling with the same exact thing.

I literally felt breathless while having the honor of praying with these young women. I couldn't believe that God was using me to bring them healing, to bring them closer to His heart. Wow. I'm literally freaking out just writing about it.

Like...God is using me. He's using my story. My pain. My brokenness. The Creator of the universe...He thinks I'm important. I am His what?! And you're also His child. So of course what happens to us is important! And, of course, God will want to show it to the world, looking on with proud eyes, beaming: "That's my child."

There were so many different stories I was praying about telling at this retreat...and the fact that I told the one I did was pretty crazy in itself. But that's what I mean by giving God our stories...we have got. to. surrender. He divinely appointed me to share what I did to who I did when I did. He is totally and completely in control and has a plan!

"It was not you who chose me but I who chose you, and appointed you, to go and bear fruit that will remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give you." --John 15:16.

God has chosen you. What you have experienced, you've experienced for a reason, and God WILL use it when it's surrendered. Not only that...but your efforts will bear fruit. Sharing your story is not pointless and stuff will go down.

Y'all, there are a whole lot of people living in prisons out there, thinking that's what they were made for. Let us not talk about pointless, worthless things but rather, let us share for the glory of God. I'm going to tell my stories.

Let's tell our stories.

I'm praying for you always.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Gratitude and Happiness

So excited to be doing the A to Z Challenge for the second year in a row! I will be posting each day (besides Sunday) this month. I'll be posting things I've learned throughout high school.

Last year, for Lent, I decided to do two (seemingly unrelated) things to become holier. One was to stop thinking negative thoughts about myself regarding my physical appearance. The other was to write letters to people who had been significant in my life.

To me, these were completely unrelated.

The whole positive-thought thing worked out really well. By the grace of God, even since then, I've been able to (for the most part) stop the "I'm so fat", "I'm so stupid", "my hair is awful"s. Honestly? It was never a huge problem to begin with, meaning that these weren't thoughts I often entertained. But I entertained them enough that it definitely made a huge different when I kicked them out. More on that and body image at the end of the month!

I was really excited about the letter writing thing. I wrote a list of people and planned to write a letter a day. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way...but I wrote many, many letters.

I wrote letters to old teachers. These were people who led me to Jesus, who deepened my intellect, and who were so genuinely interested in my life that they made me glad to be me. These things are big deals, you know? I began to many people have been positively affected by teachers? And how many have actually told these amazing people how they have influenced them for the better?

I wrote letters to old friends. Some of these letters were actually kind of hard to write, because they were to people who had caused a lot of pain in my life. I didn't want them to be a rehashing of any sort, but an acknowledgement of whatever wonderfulness took place in the relationship. There is a time for honest confrontation, but I wanted these letters to be uplifting. I wanted their recipients to feel uplifted and loved, regardless of whatever had been said and done in the past. In some cases, I wanted certain people to know that I had forgiven them.

I wrote letters to people who were still in my life, who I talked to regularly. I felt like there are so many people who I see every day who don't know that they mean the world to me. I wanted to thank them for simply being them, for loving me, for encouraging me, or whatever the case may be.

I remember, mid-Lent, feeling so happy, which really confused me. My soul felt like it was constantly smiling, which was odd, because a lot was going on in my life that was giving me plenty of reasons not to smile. Nevertheless, I was inexplicably happy.

And, bam, then it hit me. Out of the blue, like this crazy April snow.

I was focused on other people. I was focused on using my words to serve them, to uplift, rather than tear down. I was focusing on the positive aspects of these relationships, rather than the negative. I was living in a spirit of gratitude, being thankful for the wonderful things that God worked through the people around me. On top of that, I wasn't being negative about myself. I wasn't even thinking about myself.

I was discovering what so many people spend their lives searching for: the key to happiness. Friends, we must forget ourselves. We must adopt attitudes of gratitude and have our eyes turned from our own limitations to the Creator who has none.

As I mentioned, some of these letters were hard to write, let alone think about. People are so powerful: we have the power to hurt and to heal, and, believe me, I've been hurt. But I've also been healed. It's amazing how God can use flawed human beings, but He does, which is so beautiful.

My norm had been (and, at times, still is) to think all about the bad things that had taken place in relationships. I had (and sometimes have) habits of thinking about these hurts every day rather than cherishing the beautiful memories and moments currently happening. Hurt does need to be acknowledged, but shouldn't it be the other way around?

I feel like this sounds like such a cliche post. But we are so, so, SO obsessed with ourselves! We are obsessed with our weight, our hair color, how we appear online, who likes us, who hurts times, we don't even stop to think about what a simple "thank you" could do to someone who we value. Beyond even that, what a "thank you for..." could do. Gratitude is something that is missing from our society of "me, myself, and I".

When I turned my eyes from all of my negativity and problems, I was able to love more fully. Not only those around me, but myself.

Writing those letters and giving up those of my happiest times in high school. Perhaps we need to think about the positive more than the well as talk about the positive more than the negative. I challenge you to think of a person who has touched your life and changed you for the better and LET THEM KNOW. Call them, write a letter, send a text, whatever.

Together, let's start a culture of being grateful and experience true happiness.

"And in all things, give thanks." --1 Thessalonian 5:18

I'm praying for you always.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

For You

So excited to be doing the A to Z Challenge for the second year in a row! I will be posting each day (besides Sunday) this month. I'll be posting things I've learned throughout high school.

Today I discovered a poem I wrote March of my junior year (about a year ago). It really touched me because it captures an awakening that was going on within my soul...

That January, I had realized that I wanted to be so in love with Jesus that nothing else mattered. I also realized that I wanted to do everything I possibly could to attain this relationship. That was when my faith really became active. My knees hit the ground. 

I made a commitment to pray every day...again. I'd made that commitment so many times. This time, however, it was coupled with a burning desire. I had seen what my life was like without God. I was feeling pretty alone in life and as I was growing closer to God, I was noticing that I was drifting a part from a lot of my friends. Not that any of them are bad people at all...I really believe that God just wanted to purify me and have some "just Annie time". 

Anyway. A lot of people (myself included at times) get really angry at God for allowing them to go through certain things. Personally, I know I questioned Him a lot about why He had allowed me to grow so distant from Him sophomore year. I have come to actually be grateful for that time. I hate that I sinned...but it really gave me a huge heart for sinners. Who is a sinner? All of us!

I have learned that God lets us go through everything for a reason, even sin. I genuinely believe this. 

Let me again share Sirach 39:21:

"No cause then to say, 'what is the purpose of this?' For everything is chosen to satisfy a need."

Because I know what it's like to run from God, I want to spend my life leading people back to Him. Because I know what it's like to hate one's self, I want to spend my life sharing how each person is individually created, called, and crowned. Because I know what it's like to feel rejection, I want to spend my life showing Christ's love and acceptance. Because I know what it is like to use, I want to spend my life teaching the dignity of each life. 

I don't find my value in bringing people to Christ, however awesome and humbling that might be. I don't feel like I have to "make it up to Jesus" by "saving people"-- Jesus already did the saving and any Truth that I might share is His.

But I have seen brokenness. I have seen it in myself. I have seen it in the eyes of a girl who had been so used that, by the age of fifteen, she thought that she was completely worthless and unlovable. I have seen it in a boy who had been so rejected and abandoned that he cut himself to numb the pain. I have seen it in the lifestyle of a girl who didn't know how to come to God with her pain and so numbed it with drugs and alcohol. 

If high school has taught me has taught me that everyone is broken and everyone has a story. It has taught me that my heart longs for Jesus, that He alone can satisfy me. And it has taught me that I long to share with others the infinite, healing love of Christ.

So! This poem. I wrote it at a time when I was finally really understanding how very much we all need Jesus. Also, I was so devastated by the lies that the people around me were buying's so interesting how much people change in just a couple of years. I was seeing the choices that people I love were making and how they were leading them away from Jesus...and this poem came to be.

For You

All around me
I hear cries of "where is love"
screams of desperation

We've all broken our hearts
placing them in paper shredders
and playing with knives
and yet we wonder
why we're always bleeding

I look around me
seeing weary eyes
tear-stained cheeks
sliced arms
Does anyone see 
what we've done
to each other

In our search for "love"
we've rejected Love Himself

And we want someone
to hold our hands
But He's holding us

We want someone to sit beside us
But He's running with us

We want someone who will stay forever
But He'll lead us there

God I'm so broken
so tired of forgiving 
of trying to love
and failing

But you knew my words
before I thought them
You hold my heart
Heal my soul

I sit here and wish for love
But I already have Him
He's got me

Love that came
was torn
for you

Who died
for you
Who came back
for you