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


Wednesday, April 6, 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.

The word "enough" was basically what drove a lot of my actions for much of high school. Not because I was enough, but because I wasn't. Or so I thought.

I was bullied in grade school and I felt like I had a rough time fitting in freshman year. So, when I moved to a new school and a new town sophomore year, bam, perfect chance to reinvent myself, am I right?! 

I had this longing to be liked. That's not a bad thing, wanting to be liked! However, it can become dangerous when it's what controls us.

I hate the word "enough". 

If I could go back in time and say anything to my pre-high school self, this is what I would say: You are already enough.

I spent SO. MUCH. TIME. trying to be enough for myself, for everyone around me, and for God. 

I thought that if I could get guys to like me, then I would be enough. I thought that if I could get invited to every party and get accepted into every friend group, then I would be enough. I thought that if I could get good grades and be recognized for my achievements, then I would be enough. I thought that if I was enough for the people around me, then I would be enough for myself.

And who cares what it took to be enough for my peers? At least that's what I thought. As long as I was happy, as long as I was being filled...and then after that I'll clean myself up and make myself enough for God. But the thing is, I wasn't happy or being filled. 

What I was was depressed. I was gossiping, because that's what's cool, right? To talk about this person with that person and then that person with this person. I had to be so many things to so many different people, because not everyone likes the same thing. I wore so many masks. I wasn't looking at people as made in the Image and Likeness of God, I was looking at them and asking the question: "How can I use you to fill me? How can you fix me?" 

I became depressed because I was so focused on myself. 

I knew that I was a mess because I felt like a mess. So, naturally, I kept doing the same things. On the outside, I looked like the perfect little Catholic girl. But on the inside? I didn't want God to see me. I felt like I wasn't enough for anyone in my life, let alone myself, so how could I possibly be enough for the Creator of the universe? 

My prayers went something like this: "God, hey, please fix this, this, and this, but then look away because I don't want you to see any of this. 'Kay bye." I felt like once I got my act together, then God could be a part of my life. But until then, I was only good with Him seeing my church self and that was about it.

Towards the end of the year, I became so angry. All of my life, I had heard about God's love and how He is supposed to always be there and I cried out to Him. Maybe you've said something similar:


Everything inside of me felt so broken. I had what I had wanted-- guys liking me, lots of friends, great grades-- and I was even emptier than when I started. 

Then, one day, I heard this song..."How He Loves", the Jesus Culture version. In the song, Kim Walker-Smith talks about having a love encounter with God...she says that when we have this love encounter with Him, it changes us, and we are never the same

I realized that I wasn't feeling God because I had filled my heart with lies. I wasn't seeing Him work in my life because I had pushed Him out of my heart and my life, and in exchange, I claimed so much hurt that came from lies, use, gossip, insincerity...

I remember, in that moment, saying: "Jesus, I am so weak, and I need you." And immediately, I felt His presence.

I didn't become perfect the next day and I'm not perfect now. But Jesus Christ is so faithful! By His grace, each day, I grow closer and closer to Him.

Y'all, we are not enough on our own. When we fill ourselves with things other than Christ...we will never be enough. When we judge ourselves against standards posed by pictures on Instagram and Cosmo articles, we will never be enough

Jesus Christ died to make us enough. He died so that you would be enough. Why should we fill ourselves with hurt and lies when we can cling to One who made the stars? He longs to heal your heart.

He is desperately, madly in love with you.

I have made many mistakes. I have mistreated myself and others. God knows that-- He sees it all, He knows it all. Despite this...He still loves me.

Friends, nothing you do can increase or decrease your infinite value in Jesus. You are priceless, you are worthy of love. Don't wait to fix yourself, to fix your mess before letting Jesus in. Spoiler alert, you can't fix it. Christ already fixed things when He died on that cross. You don't have to hide from Him...bring Him your brokenness. 

When you feel ashamed, bring it to the cross. When you hate yourself, bring it to the cross. When you want to give up, bring it to the cross. Shatter these things against the cross, because the cross makes us enough. How absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. 

Praying for you always.

"And I don't have the time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us..."

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Crushes and Dating

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 is the combination of letters C and D*

"Do not awaken love until it so desires." --Song of Songs 8:4

I have learned an abundance of things about crushes and dating throughout the past few years. Strangely enough, I've never actually been in a dating relationship. But please, pull up a chair and a bowl of cookie dough, and allow me to humbly share.

I am a romantic. I feel deeply. And, y'all, I have done some preeeetty stupid things when it has come to crushes.

I went into high school with the mindset of NO DATING due to one, my parents' rule, and two, my own personal conviction. To me, it was simply illogical to enter into a high school relationship when I've always seen dating as a precursor to marriage. Not ready for marriage, not ready to date. I also saw older friends enter into high school relationships and miss out on so many other friendships with other people as well as getting to better know themselves.

It's pretty easy to have those convictions when you go to an all girls school.

On Being Crushed On

Sophomore year hit (new school-- with boys) and with it came the realization that, wow, guys liked me. Someone made the joke that year that all of the guys in our class of less than one hundred had already been through all of the girls the previous year and I was basically fresh meat.

Here's a confession: I really liked being liked. Like, liked-liked. A lot a lot.

When I found out that guys liked me that year, I did one of two things: 1. totally lead him on without intention of dating or 2. completely ignored him. Both are probably the absolute worst things I could have possibly done, given the situations.

Let me speak directly to my lady readers. We live in such a man-bashing culture where we women like to talk about how stupid and ridiculous men are. Women are definitely objectified, that's a separate issue. But men are not stupid. They have hearts, they have minds, they have dreams. 

We all have a responsibility to everyone we encounter. We can bring people closer to Love (Jesus Christ) or further away from Him. There is no middle. The people who like us are no different.

It could be argued that the responsibility increases when we're "liked". For sure, there are times when heartbreak is inevitable. But in everything we do, we have to see the "crusher" as a human being, worthy of love, made in the Image and Likeness of God. That truth is what needs to guide our actions.

I remember one of my closest friends sophomore year really liked this one girl A LOT. They were "talking" (I hate that word) for weeks before he asked her to homecoming, where he planned on asking her out. Everyone thought that she liked him and they were going to start dating...and then at homecoming, she completely stopped talking to him. He was devastated, needless to say.

Our culture is all about using. It's not "how can I give of myself for you?" it's "how can I take of you for me?"

I personally fell into that trap. I was so caught up with being emotionally filled by guys liking me that all I could think about was myself. I didn't care about the consequences for either of us, really, it was just as long as I could have that warm fuzzy feeling of acceptance and the power that it brought with it. My fear of being uncomfortable lead me to just cut off other guys that maybe would have turned out to be good friends had I not completely shut down.

There's not a formula for what to do when you're liked and you don't return the feeling. But here's a key virtue: honesty. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with the crusher. We need to boot the fear of being uncomfortable and the desire for emotional (and maybe even physical) pleasure from the driver's seat and instead cling to honesty, genuine love, and put others before ourselves.

On Crushing On

Hearts are a tricky thing. Liking someone is an extremely tricky thing, because there are so many levels. There are the crushes that last two minutes and then the ones that last two years. There are the ones that just fade away and then the ones that lead to life-changing heartbreak.

I am a romantic (surprise!). I like princesses and I like happy endings. I also have standards that are pretty high. I had two pretty "major" crushes in high school...and, well, I hope you still have some cookie dough left because here's where it gets good.

Crush Number One (protecting the names of the uninnocent. Or I guess guilty works) was a guy who was just really, really nice. I was kind of obsessed with him and it probably kind of showed. Y'all know, that stereotypical crush that makes you walk down certain hallways at certain times? Yep. Me. It ended pretty suddenly when at the end of the year, he just stopped talking to me. I spent all of the following summer crying about it.

Crush Number Two was, er, slipperier. We were "best friends" and hung out it was kind of very natural. After almost a full school year, I ended that friend-or-whatever-we-were-ship because he had a girlfriend and I was so emotionally confused and it was just messy.

Both situations started the same way: with me thinking a guy was cute and then thinking about and obsessing over him so much that it escalated to a "crush". Honestly, I don't even remember why I liked either of those guys. Once again, I wanted to be emotionally filled. I would text certain things ("you're my best friend", "I love you") just to get other things texted back ("you're my best friend too!", "I love you too!").

I do know that I gave a lot of myself emotionally to both of these guys.

Because of my crush dealings, I have developed a Crush Battle Plan:

1. What are my intentions? Am I being genuine in everything? Do I want his greater good? And I am being respectful to who I am as a daughter of God?
2What kind of guy is he and why do I like him? Is he a person that I would want my parents to come to know? Does he place God above all others?

3. What is going on in my life? How is my relationship with myself? With other people? With God? Am I in a place where it would be wise to enter into a relationship?

4.  What is God saying about it? Am I covering this decision in prayer?

5. Am I forcing it? Are things lining up or am I trying too hard to make it work?

Some people might argue that it's stupid to take a crush so seriously. But obviously, I'm not talking about your crush on Adam Levine; I'm talking about real, strong feelings...our emotions are REAL and STRONG-- they have power. Especially when it comes to us women. If we don't continually surrender to Jesus and allow Him to take control...things do get messy.

More than anything, we need to be grounded in God. Because no relationship is ever going to satisfy us besides the one of between the Father and His

The Taboo Subject of Dating

I have made it through high school without a boyfriend. Well, knock on wood, still about a month to go...but I think that not having a boyfriend in high school was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. Was it always easy? Nope. Especially not when all of my friends were in got lonely. Sometimes there was even a huge temptation to feel like something was wrong with me.

But are those good reasons to enter into a relationship? Because of popularity and self esteem issues? Those are just two of a list I've come to discover why high schoolers enter into relationships:

  1. Because I can't stand being alone
  2. Because it's a great status symbol.
  3. Because he's cute.
  4. Because I need a prom date.
  5. Because I need to feel something.
  6. Because I like the attention. 
  7. Because he needs my help; I want to make him a better person.
And so many more...

Maybe there are so high schoolers who date with better intentions. But look at what dating is meant for: for the discernment of marriage. As high school students, as teenagers-- are we ready to even think about that? 

I have seen far too many high schoolers become so lost in relationships that they forget who they are. High school is a time of self discovery. An exclusive dating relationship is meant for two people who know who they are, who are mature, and who love God more than each other. I don't really know any teens who meet that criteria. 

A big danger of high school dating is that a person can get so lost in another person that they don't get the privilege of getting to know him-or-herself. So many friendships can be missed out on too (especially with the opposite gender). I lost one of my closest friends due to her boyfriend obsession.

Not dating in high school has helped me to better discover who I am. It's helped me stay focused on my hopes and dreams and eradicating my fears. It has helped my friendships. Ultimately, it has brought me to a deeper love and understanding of Jesus Christ.

The Future

Y'all, I want to be married so so so much. I think marriage is such a beautiful thing. Maybe it's God's will and maybe it's I'm just going to keep clinging to Him and His Word. I found this particularly appropriate:

"Do not awaken love until it so desires." --Song of Songs 8:4

We don't need to run around looking for someone to like, date, or even marry. God's got it. God has a plan. Even when we mess up, He still has a plan. He has a plan for you, He has a plan for your future spouse...and guess what? He knows your heart's deepest desires and His every action is designed to satisfy your needs and true wants. 

Let's stop fighting against Him and surrender anew to His will, allowing Him to work in our lives.

Let's also remember...God gave men and women to each other, but He made our hearts for His. There is nothing in the whole world that can satisfy our heart's deepest longings besides Him.

So, let us dance with God. Let us be the best person we can be for Him, for ourselves...and then, when we're ready, He'll let the person of our dreams cut in.

I am praying for you always!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Best Friends

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 know, I know-- I'm a day behind. A thousand apologies. It's been an insane weekend. BUT, never fear, tomorrow will be the combination of letters C and D-- tune in to get my thoughts on CRUSHES AND DATING!**

One of the first things I noticed at my new school sophomore year was that everyone had a best friend. At least, seemingly. It was prevalent at my previous school as well, but, hey, that was freshman year. People were still trying to figure out who they were and wanted to be and wanted to be with. You're supposed to have all that figured out by sophomore year, don't you know. 

Best friends. Tenth grade, it seemed to be defined as someone with whom your name was synonymous with. "Oh, Annie? You mean Katie's best friend?" A best friend was someone who proved that someone actually did like you, someone who prevented you from being completely alone. Someone who always said the right thing and made everything better. Someone who stuck up for you and yelled at the bad guys.

I have had so many "best friends" throughout high school, lasting from two weeks to two years. Variance was easy and commitment was difficult-- y'all, I have been enrolled in a total of three high schools. 

Here's the thing about all of those best friends. None of them has lasted, at least in the best friend sense. And here's the other thing. They've all let me down. No doubt that I've let them down as well.

"WHAT?! But then they weren't true best friends, am I right? Because real best friends last forever."

Okay, y'all better hold onto your Easter bonnets (everyone wears Easter bonnets on Monday mornings, correct?) because I'm about to share a shocking revelation that I had late last year.

A "best friend" (at least, how the world views it) is a completely fictional idea that, much like thigh gaps, is totally unattainable.

I don't have any best friends this year. Which is funny, because the friends that I do have? I am closer to than I've ever been with anyone. Maybe you could say, yeah, well, doesn't matter what you actually call it, they're still you're best friends. And maybe that's true. But I feel like I have a whole different mindset.

Previously, I have seen best friends as a self-serving kind of thing. I want them to fill me, to heal me, to always be there, to always say the right thing, to stick up for me. I have had many beautiful best friends...and no one has ever done all of these things. 

But aren't those kind of unreasonable expectations? Basing all of your happiness on a flawed human being? With this mindset, best friends have the tendency to come between myself and myself as well as myself and God.

The other thing about proclaiming a certain person as a "best friend" is that it excludes all other people. When I hear people talk about their best friend, a part of me is always like "well, you don't need me". I feel like when we put one person up on a pedestal and give her the duties of basically Being Perfect and exclude all other females from this title, it has the danger of preventing us from being good friends with other people. 

I have known people who I thought I was decently close with and they would continually bring up their best friends. Maybe I'm just sensitive, but it kind of made me feel inferior.  

Our definition of "best friend" has been tainted by media, in my opinion, just like a whole lot of other things. We see the best friendships in movies, books, and even music. We see on social media, as well, the seemingly perfect best friendships of people we know. 

I have found in these last months that removing the term "best friend" from my vocabulary has been pretty impact. It has removed the temptation to use someone emotionally to make me feel better and fix my problems. It allows the people in my life to just be people and allows me to love them more deeply. 

To the person who doesn't have a best friend: there is NOTHING wrong with you. Really, I promise. Unless you smell bad. Then take a shower and you'll be fine. But in all seriousness, having a person to call "best friend" doesn't make you more or less of  a person. A best friend won't ultimately fix you or make everything better or satisfy you. You don't need fixing, friend. Only God can satisfy you. You are beautiful, treasured, sacred, and His. 

Prayers always.

Friday, April 1, 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.

I have always thought of "alone" as negative, bringing on other words such as "rejection" and "abandoned". It summons memories of sobbing by myself in my room or walking through a crowded hallway, unseen.

Alone. I have experienced loneliness. 
Freshman year, I felt so alone. I remember thinking that high school was a great, big magical place, and I was so ready to kill everyone with kindness. I remembered this one girl in my second grade class who always smiled at everyone and was so, so sweet. Everyone loved her. I wanted to be like that-- liked by everyone, friends with everyone.

But then...the people I smiled at didn't all smile back. Most looked away or didn't even meet my eyes to begin with. I tried to be friends with everyone, but there must have been something wrong with my methods, because it didn't really work. 

So, I shut down. I stopped trying...and bitterness grew inside of me.

In the three years after ninth grade, so much happened. I continued to experience various forms of loneliness, but was mostly able to stifle it with "friends" (loose definition of the term at times). Until the start of this school year.

Senior year. It's a crazy thing. And the thing about the crazy thing is that it brings about a lot of change. For one reason or another, I found myself alone. The majority of my friends living out of town and having lost touch with the rest, I didn't really have anyone to just hang out with or grab coffee with or other typical friend stuff.

Loneliness. It can be crushing.

Earlier this year, I was venting on the phone to my cousin about how alone I felt. She had the most Holy Spirit-filled response: "What is God using this time to teach you? Maybe He just wants some Annie time."

That was such a huge slap in the face-- in a good way. 

Maybe He just wants some Annie time.

We're so quick to be negative about when we're alone. But maybe our loneliness is a reminder of something more...that we weren't created for this world. We weren't created to be satisfied by these people that surround us. Loneliness is a scream from our hearts for God.

Because without Him, even what we see as the "best" of relationships is absolutely pointless.

I have come to believe that Jesus has allowed me to go through times of loneliness to get rid of the temptation to fill myself with other people. In times of loneliness, Jesus has showed me that He alone can fill me and that He alone will remain faithful.

I ask God "why" all the time, especially when I've gone through alone time. A verse that really answers that question is Sirach 39:21:

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

So what is my need? My ultimate need? To be filled by God, to let Him completely take over in every part of my life. Perhaps God chooses loneliness to satisfy that longing in our hearts for Him, by removing the distractions of other people.

Let's allow our loneliness to point us to a God whose arms are continually open and beckoning, despite wherever we've been. St. Paul tells us to rejoice in all things, so let us rejoice in the times when we feel alone!

And here's the best part: God will fill our hearts. It's not something we have to convince Him to do; He already longs to. Just think: when we're feeling alone or rejected, we feel but a shadow of His heart. Think of all of the people living without God, continually rejecting Him...and we've been a part of that very boat.

Jesus Christ alone can fill us. He alone can heal our lonely hearts. So let's surrender anew each day to His awesome, powerful love.