Friday, December 30, 2011

to inspire or to be inspired

I was woken up today by a message of inspiration. This was very meaningful to me because the only resolution that has been on my mind for a few days now is to be inspired. From the 365 days in a year, I think about the few days within where I feel so inspired that I create something of substance. For instance, I don't write poetry often but once in a blue moon I get inspired by a story, a message, a photo or something that makes my spirit flow into words. I also think about the times that I have been so moved, that tears overflow my eyes. Or even times when I actually write a blog entry. I am constantly longing for those moments of inspiration to happen more often in my life. In fact, I try really hard to be aware of those days when I am inspired..I pray to God to help me hold on to that particular day.

Perhaps it is I who fall short of seeing the inspiration each day brings. Maybe it is I who don't often pay attention to the inspiration that is constantly present. I find that I often depend on others to inspire me. For instance, when I attend mass on sundays I expect to be inspired by the message or the homily that the priest provides. When I am in groups I expect for others to take initiative. When I am in a classroom I expect for the teachers to teach me something. There is certainly nothing wrong with that, however we also have to seek inspiration from places that we least expect and people that we perhaps least expect it from. We also have to be aware that sometimes we are the inspiration. The Holy Spirit moves through all things great and small.

This holiday season I received many physical gifts from loved ones. I received a bright bubbly vest, a grizzly bear scarf and boots for the winter season. I received a beautiful scarf that was hand made by my beautiful best friend. One gift in particular came from Diego's dad and step-mom. It was a silver chain with a charm of a dove. When I opened it the first thing I thought about was the Holy Spirit. While I don't think that is the way the apostles received the holy spirit in their time. I'd like to believe that this was a reminder that the Holy Spirit is constantly present in me and just in case I forget I can carry physical evidence of it wherever I go.

The message I received today that I referred to in the beginning came in an e-mail that Oprah sent to all of her friends and in it she mentioned a scripture passage in the Book of Acts, "In God I Move and Breath and have my Being" Acts 17:28. This Book is what I wrote my last paper on for my course in the New Testament. I had to write about the impact the Holy Spirit's coming had on the disciples. I also had to explain how the salvation of the world is a collaborative effort in which aided by the Holy Spirit we help Jesus through our daily living. I was inspired to read more on the Acts of the Apostles.

So, I took some time today to read all the way through Chapter 17 and have tons of questions. However, here are some of the scripture lines that stood out for me:
"they would sell their property and possesses and divide them among all according to each one's need" Acts 2:45

"And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness, as you stretch forth (your) and to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus." Acts 4:29-30

"The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claims that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common." Acts 4:32

"So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor of this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God." Acts 5:38

"But the Lord said to him, "Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground." Acts 7:33

"Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands." Acts 7:48

"The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not swell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor i she served y human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything." Acts 17:24-25

"For 'in him we live and move and have our being', as even some of your poets have said, For we too are his offspring." Acts 17:28

In the spirit of the new year I ask for all those things we all hope for such as good health, love, happiness, and prosperity among other things. However as a self-inspired resolution I simply ask to be open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in my daily life, to be aware of it, and to put it into action to inspire others.

Happy 2012.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Creative Genius

Today when I opened up my macbook at home in the evening I was shocked at what I saw. Steve Jobs has passed on to a better place. My heart is heavy at this news, and it really comes at an interesting time for me. As I contemplate on the passion, strength, perseverance, creativity, talent, inspiration and dedication of this gentleman, it makes me wonder what could be of each one of us if we pushed the envelope of our creativity. I wonder what would happen if we valued things like originality and non-conformist attitudes. I call it listening to your holy spirit within, though for many it could be just following your heart, or your strong creative drive or desires. Whatever it may be I know that it is a possibility for all of us. I know there is a time in each of our lives where we fill that pull to make a change. That time in our lives where we know we can be part of something greater. Its so great that we cannot even wrap our heads around it.

The idea that Steve Jobs kept working hard at what he believed in, no matter what the setback, is a true testimony of the qualities we need to make our dreams come true. It all starts with a dream or a vision, that deep sense of possibility. It takes moving into the direction of your dream/vision, step by step at paces so small that at those very moments you are taking them, the big dream seems far, far away. But you never lose hope, because you believe in something greater than what you can fit in that mind that can sometimes fail to lend support. You push through with perseverance and do not let time that has passed hinder your dream/vision. Before you know it your vision becomes a reality and all the time that has passed does not even matter because your vision has changed the world.

I think the life of Steve Jobs was very short, though he himself may have felt like he was old. His legacy will definitely continue to live on, and those he mentored will continue to do his work. As the young leaders of the next generation, I believe we have an obligation to do what we came here for. We all have the potential to push the envelope of our creativity and possibilities. We all have something unique to bring to the table just like Steve Jobs did and all those people he mentored throughout his life do.

Not only will Apple go down in history and continue to innovate itself. Pixar animation studios was also a brilliant invention. Pixar movies have been some of my favorites since they came out. The idea that the person behind movies like "Monsters Inc, Ratatouille, and Up" will no longer make more movies leaves me with a heavy heart. I have faith, though, that the team he mentored will continue to do the great work that he did.

R. I. P Steve Jobs.

"God made us in His image..." Genesis 1:27

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pray, Learn, and Love

I have officially quit my job to become a full-time graduate student. Its a bit nerve wrecking but a dream come true. This past Friday was my last day at work. I was a bit emotionally overwhelmed by all the farewell lunches, dinners, hugs, and my friend and former co-worker even baked me cookies with a school bus on them. I am really grateful for the time I spent at Mendes. It is now time to begin a new adventure with God.

I will be attending the brand new Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College for clinical studies with individuals and families. The volunteer work I've been doing for a year with trauma survivors has been just a glimpse of the work that lies ahead for me. It has paved the way for my new journey. I pray to God for guidance, compassion, strength, wisdom and all those beautiful gifts of the holy spirit. I pray that I can be an instrument of His peace. I pray for the motivation and perseverance to immerse myself in my studies. I also pray to be able to enjoy it one day at a time...praying, learning, and loving.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Leap of Faith

Today my friend said to me that her and I would have never met if I had not decided to take the leap of faith and move to New York. Those words were profound to me because I often think about all the special people I have met here and all the experiences I've had. I am so glad I followed my heart. It was one of the toughest decisions I have ever made to leave Chicago simply because my family and close friends are there. I remember there were many people who were encouraging my dream while others thought it was a crazy idea. I knew that if I didn't take that leap of faith then, I would probably never have done it. It was obviously time for me to start a new journey.

I think about all the wonderful people I have met at my job, my church, and in my neighborhood. I think about all I have been able to be a part of here. It has truly been one great adventure to me. I have been blessed to know all the people I have met here. I have made some really good friends and I am learning so much about life and love. I thank God for the gift of courage that has blessed me in abundance! I'm also so grateful for my family and friends back home who have supported me mentally and spiritually throughout this journey. It feels like no time has passed with them though I often wish they were just a short car ride away!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Treasure of our True Selves

Yesterday I was printing out some old journal entries from 2009 and when I was done I decided to read some of them. Sometimes I don’t quite believe that I was the author of those writings. It’s amazing what happens to things when you put them away and then bring them out again after time has passed.

This made me think of two things I was inspired by today. One was the picture that you see above which my friend Maria Z sent me today of her new journal(and a sneek peak at the current book she is reading). Isn’t it just a lovely journal? I love the swirl of colors and the flowers. Another thing that inspired me was Google’s theme for today which is a picture of an unfinished theory written by Pierre de Fermat. Fermat was a French mathematician whose early developments led to calculus and other number theories. There was one Last Theorum Fermat wrote on the binding of a book that he did not leave proof of before he left the world and for many centuries scientists went crazy trying to figure it out. The fact that he left this undone is what actually made him famous centuries later.

When I think about my journal writings I often wonder if maybe someday they will mean something to someone than just myself. Maybe for me its just a way to vent my frustrations, to put things into perspective, or just to feel the joy of pen on paper. Perhaps my words will bring others comfort someday or maybe it will be someone else’s job to take those writings and use them for a greater good. I love journaling because its so personal and I believe that the pages of our journals are what holds the treasure of our true selves. Sometimes even hobbies can be like journaling because we are saying a lot by the things we feel compelled to keep for long periods of time. As they say around here one person's junk is another person's treasure!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Shadows

I just finished reading this book by Luis Sepulveda called "the Shadow of What We Were" and I've got some thoughts. In this country we are taught American history to basically be all about North America which causes many of us to become patriotic about North America but truly the real heroes are people who come from places like South America, Central America and the Caribbean which are all part of the Americas. Its true that there isn't a country quite like the United States because of its diversity, but its all due to the beautiful cultures and customs that people have brought with them from their own countries. We hardly hear of people like Simon Bolivar, Eugenio Maria de Hostos, or Rigoberta Menchu among so many others. Even when it comes to literature we grow up learning about Charles Dickens and Huckleberry Finn but we are not taught about writers like Junot Diaz, Esmeralda Santiago, Rosario Ferre, etc etc. We come to this country and choose to learn English, to work, and get our education but most importantly we strive to hold on to the struggles of those that came before us, the dreams they had for us to live a better life today. I am proud to say that Puerto Ricans can be considered pioneers of standing up for who we are and where we come from and the importance of knowing our identity. We were part of struggles for things like Latin American programs we can major in at universities, cultural parades, and even cultural centers. The struggles were not easy and I am so grateful right now at this very moment to all those people who stood up for what they believed in-who were willing to put their lives in jeopardy so that the next generation can have access to the history of where they, their parents, and grandparents came from and get to know who they really are. I am thankful for the struggles of my ancestors who fought for liberation from slavery and other injustices. I thank God almighty for truly allowing them to live out their purpose and have us benefit from the fruits of their labor today.

Contemplating on the title of this book, its interesting how most of the people who made a huge difference in shaping this country to include our history were mostly shadows, folks who never made it to the spotlight. We may know the names of a few but I know there were many who were part of that struggle that we may never be able to know by name. I want to pray for all those who were not named and whom we never knew by face nor by memory-but that their accomplishments are evident. I know they are rejoicing in a better place whenever students gather at a cultural center they help to open, whenever a student graduates from a Latin American/Caribbean Studies program, when a Latino wins the Pulitzer Prize for literature, and many other milestones we continue to cross because of their sweat and struggle. I pray that they are rejoicing in the fruits of their sacrifices and that we continue to make them proud.

Freedom is a state of grace, but only if you're free when you fight for it. (Sepulveda, 127)

Monday, July 25, 2011

A little inspiration

Yesterday I had the day all to myself. I had a few projects I needed to work on for some loved ones so I took a little time to get creative. Both projects are for young teenage girls who are either going to college or are already there. It seems that the mentality of teenagers changes almost as much as technology does through the generations. Its not easy to reach the youth of the times. So I looked through books and magazines for inspiration and images to collage. The words "be true to yourself" kept appearing in my mind so I decided to paint them. I've had these paints in my possession since the spring began and its only the second time I put them to use. Its all still a work in progress but painting the words on paper felt like they came to life.

From what I remember being a teenager meant I had to keep my parents happy, my friends happy, my teachers happy, and just about everyone else around me. Somehow in the midst of all that, its really hard to be true to oneself..especially when we ourselves are barely getting to know who we really are. In my 20's I began to get a glimpse of who I really was and all that I can be. At 30 years old I am still getting to know myself, yet feel more grounded, and have become an advocate for myself and my time. I've learned that if I don't stand up for myself no one else will. I've also learned how important it is to listen to my intuition. I believe all of these are part of being true to ones self. It is all a work in progress...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Vine and the Branches

Yesterday morning I started my day reading scripture. I often long to be able to read and share the scripture with others so that we can discuss one another's thoughts and inspirations on the Word. But I also know that as I am reading scripture and meditating on it the Holy Spirit of Truth is working in me. It's not easy to meditate, to just be still and listen to the whispers of your heart. For a long time I have been keeping journal pages which makes me feel like I am somehow sharing my thoughts with others. I am grateful to God for pen and paper among so many other things.

Yesterday's scripture was about the vine and the branches. Its really deep and meaningful how we must bear fruit and the only way to do so is to remain in Christ and Christ will remain in us. The line that really stood out for me is where Jesus says:

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13)

The bible commentary mentions how this can also be interpreted as "for those whom one loves." This scripture really touches my heart especially when I think of those whom I love in my life. Specifically when I think of friendship I believe its something very special and unique aside from the family we are born into. To me, friendship is the fruit that we bear throughout our lives. We encounter people everyday but there are only a few who really stick around and we build confidence and loyalty with. To be open to friendship is to be open to love and share our lives with one another. In many ways I feel that Jesus talks to us about the vine and the branches as a parable about friendship. Sometimes people come into our lives who do not bear fruit in our lives and may not be good for us so the friendship dwindles away. The scripture says:

"He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does, He prunes so that it bears more fruit. (John 15:2)

Those He prunes are of course those friendships we've been able to cultivate for a long time, through thick and thin, our love is always available to one another even from afar. The bible commentary also talks about how the words for love are related to the Greek agapao (agape). It also mentions the word philos. I have looked both of these up and the connection to scripture is very powerful we often go through different periods of connections with others and some friendships will evolve into a higher form of love while others will eventually dwindle away which takes us back to the message of the vine and the branches.

BOTTOM LINE: To be able to call someone a friend should not be taken lightly. Jesus Christ gave up His life for us-He is the prime example of love and friendship. One of his greatest commandments in John 15:12 is to "love one another as I love you."

There are many stories in the bible on how Jesus valued friendship, some are His friendship with Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary (John 11), and the washing of the disciples feet (John 13).


Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Parable of the Sower

When reading the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23) there were some lines that really stood out for me, for instance:

8~But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
9~ Whoever has ears ought to hear.
The sower having his many seeds did not just sow them in one place. He sowed them in different places to test where he would be able to
bear fruit. Though he may have "lost" those seeds that did not fall on the rich soil (because they did not bear fruit), he gained in abundance
from just the few that fell upon rich soil.

I wonder how can we be sure which is the soil that will bear fruit if we are not trying in different places. Often we get comfortable and want to take an "easy" route because it feels "safer". We end up putting all our eggs in one basket and if that basket just happens not to be rich soil we lose all that we have. We often do no want to take risks in life..we don't want to invest our time in getting to know others, we end up just sticking to the people we feel comfortable around. We do not want to invest money we've earned because we feel we have worked so hard for it that we do not want to take any chances by investing into something that is unknown to us. Even with our thoughts we are "careful" as as not to "offend" anyone so no one gets to hear how we really feel and the valuable insight that lies within every one of us goes unexpressed.

12~to anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13~ this is why I speak to them in parables, because 'they look but do not see and hear but not listen or understand.

How many of us go through our "phases" with God. I know I sure do. Sometimes we feel close to Him and sometimes we don't. Sometimes we "question" the word of God and some days we feel strong in Faith. How many of us often become distracted by sin (anything that takes our focus from God)-we begin to compare ourselves to others-we start to let other people's opinions and comments get the best of us-we start feeling like we are not where we supposed to be-we start blaming others for the way that we feel, even God. Basically, we lose sight of God's will-of the plans He has for us. We lost focus of all the goodness in our lives. We reach a point where we don't even know what happened to us. Where did we go wrong? What happened to the joy we were feeling in our hearts while it was at one with God? I have found myself there many times and still struggle with it.

19~The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.

Spanish translation: 19~Si no escucha la palabra del Reino sin entenderla, viene el maligno y roba lo sembrado en su corazon.

It is a privilege to be a disciple of God.

16~But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

Since a parable is figurative speech that demands reflection for understanding, only those who are prepared to explore its meaning can come to know it. To understand is a gift from God, granted to the disciples but not the crowds.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Life is fragile-handle with prayer.

Just yesterday I was praying for God to help me invest a very nominal amount of savings I have been able to gather up to have it grow somehow. I am very proud of myself as I have never been able to save any money in the past. Considering all the changes that are coming up in my life I don't know how long I will be able to keep my savings.

This morning I woke up at the same time I wake up everyday, yet I stayed in bed doing a little thinking, reading, and playing this silly game of brickbreaker on my phone. Anyhow, I finally got up out of bed and sat at my desk to navigate the web. I've spent over an hour doing research on finances and feel really good about all the information I've gathered. This is not what I planned to do at all this morning but I see that I allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me through.

God answered my prayer of which I am forever grateful for.

Now I just have to pray for the courage to take the necessary steps to make things happen.

Monday, March 14, 2011

LENT 2011

As we enter the season of Lent I can't help but to think about how easily we lose the actual meaning of things. Come lent, people are giving up something they enjoy often like sweets or certain types of meat. In fact in the modern world we are even giving up things like social websites. I believe it is safe to say we are attempting to honor the tradition of fasting, as Jesus did, but in the context of the world today. I ask myself, however, what was the purpose of the 40 days of fasting for Jesus? Why do we fast, is it really helping us get closer to God?

I believe these are questions we have to ask ourselves. In yesterday's gospel* we see how Jesus is able to defend himself from the devil through the powerful words of God. Jesus not only fasted during the 40 days but He meditated on scripture. I have always admired the way Jesus responds to the devil in saying "
One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God". Then the devil uses part of Psalm 91 against Jesus and Jesus throws scripture right back at Him. It is a gospel reading that has always stood out for me. I often wondered if I would ever be able to quote scripture during tempting times the way that Jesus did. Can you imagine how amazing that would be?

So yes some of us are going vegetarian or staying clear of social websites during this time, but the question is, what are we doing in place of it to develop a closer relationship to Christ? Even just meditating on the commandments that Jesus gave us in Matthew 22:37-39** can help us build a better relationship with Christ. How can we best love God and love our neighbor? Lent calls us to focus on
prayer, fasting, and service to strengthen our relationship with Christ and with one another.

Whatever it is we choose to give up for Lent, let's go the extra mile of developing a lasting relationship with God.



Saturday, January 1, 2011

A fresh new year...

WELCOME 2011. I have been patiently waiting for you to arrive. There is something about the feeling of a new beginning. A chance to better ourselves, to reinvent ourselves once again. As we enter a new decade I am also entering a new phase in my life. I will be 30 years old in a few months and I am embracing every part of it. As I continue to grow and learn, I am looking forward to making this decade a memorable one. Happy 2011!!