What 10,000 Means to Me.

 

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Ah, yes. I haven’t been on the blog in a while. I’ve been putting all of time into the constant interaction on A Catholic Convo‘s Instagram account. Today, we all hit a milestone. 10,000 people desire to hear about Jesus and Catholicism in some way. That means a whole lot to me. There have been many moments in my faith life when I’ve felt alone in my beliefs, but Jesus so often fulfilled my desire for a community. And you’re it. I began A Catholic Convo for myself and God, posting my thoughts about Him and my answers to His questions in the form of photography. But in 21 fast months, TEN THOUSAND of you wanted to follow along. I cannot explain fully the gifts God has given me from this little ministry. So, thank you. It means a whole bunch.

I pray that Jesus will continue to bless this blog and that St. Therese of Lisieux will continue to teach me about great littleness. Your heart belongs to God, you are not a number, no one else can tell you how you feel, you were made for incredible things, know that I am thankful for you. One who contributed to something I love to share.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mary.

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Hi Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

Your yes about two thousand years ago changed the purpose of my life. My mom and I will be reading these books to learn more about you, the Queen of Heaven. We know you can hear our songs to you, Mary. Thank you for welcoming anyone’s heart, and directly placing it in Christ’s. We can all learn from you. You were the closest person to the Son of God, wiping His blood, holding His body, suffering for His heart. Take me straight to Jesus, Mother Mary. You’ve given blue a new meaning.

My Time in Ecuador

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Jesus, thank you for what this mission trip was. Thank You for every part of it. Here is my mission trip account:

I wasn’t really ready for Ecuador. I had packed my bags, prayed my prayers, checked my lists, but I was not prepared. In my head I had imagined this beautiful land with a beautiful experience and a beautiful story to bring back to my friends, my family, and my blog. I was quickly disappointed in many ways. I know, it doesn’t sound right to say that I was disappointed in a mission trip, but that disappoint came from my set expectations, not anything God had promised me.

The first time we landed in Panama to connect to Ecuador, I already felt the walls coming up around me. There was a suffocating feeling. I can’t go back home. There’s no way for me to turn back anymore. I feel so alone. While everyone else seemed to be in awe of the  whole experience, I felt isolated. Afraid of what was to come. Even so, I pushed a smile on my face and said, “Jesus, I trust in You.” What I didn’t expect was for that feeling to continue. Or for that feeling to grow even stronger.

When we arrived at our home for the week, I was anxious imagining about 20 people sleeping in one room, sharing one toilet, one shower, and one faith. That last fact is what grounded me my entire time in Ecuador. Through any division, we were still Catholic. I needed to be told that Jesus was the same in all of us and allowed us to interact with the people of Ecuador even though it was challenging to understand them.

The first night in Ecuador was the hardest night of my life. I slept under a mosquito net sweating, crying, imagining myself being taken to a foreign hospital for dehydration and nausea. While all of this was running through my head, I again began to repeat, Jesus, I trust in You. But this time more crept into my heart, I trust You, but why would You put me through this. Why? The week consisted of getting up early, attending mass and Eucharistic Adoration, then working on the chapel we were renovating or going door to door to talk to the locals and pray with them. Not only was my body not used to sweating constantly and standing in 90 degree heat, but my heart was not prepared for this suffering.

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday I was mad at God. I was angry that He would put me through this. I do Your work in Indiana, Lord. That’s where I’m comfortable. And I’ve given You so much. Why would You ever call me to come here? As I was sitting in the shade of la capilla (the chapel), He finally answered me.

Monday, March 12th, 2018 // Day 3 in Ecuador

“Jesus I think I know now why I am here. Yesterday was hard for me. I sat down in the dirty broken chapel we were working on and stared at You on the crucifix and asked why. Why did You bring me here? Why do I need to do this? I didn’t feel You. I didn’t hear You at all. But as I stared at You on the cross, the men outside working on the chapel began hammering the wall. I couldn’t see them but all I heard were nails being hammered, and I looked at You. And You didn’t say anything. You used those men to speak to me. I told You, I know, my sins put You up there. But You said, No Maclaine. I want you to share in my suffering. You told me You wanted my hands to feel and be with Your nailed palms. To be Your hands. I’ve used my hands to stay at arms length away from suffering. I’ve allowed You to work in my life and bless me and show me happiness and goodness, but I told You I didn’t sign up for suffering. But Jesus, You took my outstretched arm, and pulled me close to Your heart.”

Once I had realized what God was inviting me to, my week looked different. The people I met had You in their eyes again. The pain I experienced was being offered up for my loved ones. The tiredness I felt created a drive and a meditation on the tiredness of Your passion. The conditions didn’t improve, the work didn’t get easier, my heart was just lifted. I realized what redemptive suffering felt like.

In order for me to understand the fullness of the Resurrection, the joy, the light, the rest, God needed me to understand the fullness of the Passion, the pain, the despair, the ache. 

During the week, I met incredible souls who had so little, but gave so much. I met a little girl who danced with pure joy. One day there was an old woman who couldn’t see, but opened her heart to trust us and trust the Lord. A man named Manuel began praying with us immediately when we invited him into God’s word. The people I met and the friendships God created will never fade from my heart. The students and missionaries I went with left a piece of their heart in Ecuador, I’m sure of it.

This trip was the hardest week of my life. I wasn’t ready or willing to suffer in the way God was calling me to. But I eventually understood why I was called to this cross. Jesus asked me to be Simon, to get under the cross and help Him carry it. It was a leap of faith, but the people I met in Ecuador modeled for me just how I can suffer happily for Christ.

Walking to the final mass, we prayed the stations of the cross. I read the 11th station that states: “My Jesus, leaded with contempt, nail my heart to Thy feet, that it may ever remain there to love thee, and never quit Thee again.”

This mission trip I was called to be Christ’s hands and feet. The whole week that’s where I had the most pain. My hands were burnt and swollen, and my feet were burnt, swollen, and had rashes. I was called to be the places where the nails held Jesus up on the cross. If I could take on this minor suffering for His glory, I decided it would be an honor.

Thank you to everyone who supported me financially, spiritually, and emotionally. I got to travel to a different country, drink the most amazing juice, dance to the best Spanish music, witness more smiles on kiddos than I ever have before, teach people how to pray in English, listen to God’s word in the mass every day, eat the tastiest rice I’ve ever had, ride in the back of pick up trucks, see hundreds of stars, celebrate mass outside with two priests and 20 turkeys, doze off in a hammock during breaks, shovel rocks to help build a chapel, walk through rice fields to meet lovely people, and praise You through it all. Though the week had suffering, it was the most joyful I had ever been. Suffering truly is redemptive when it is centered in the heart of Jesus Christ.

God in Darkness

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I see God in darkness.

When I close my eyes to pray, there He is.

Not just in the light of the church, but in the black of my heart.

I see God in darkness.

When I turn the lights off, there He is.

Not just in the sunny day, but in the storm.

I see God in the shame I feel when I sin.

God is the sun, but I see Him and His true mercy in the thick of night.

For God did not just come to be your light, He came to wrap Himself up in your darkness, and shine through it.

What took me so long?

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“What took me so long?”

I was listening to Matt Maher’s song, “Alive Again”, and thinking about my journey to God. I couldn’t help but think, what took me so long? Why didn’t I see God working in my life earlier? Why did I choose to bike to him instead of jumping into a car and zooming straight into His arms? What took me so long?

And then I realized that the journey was blessed. The journey to get to God had a lot of bumps and uncertainty, but that struggle and that wandering was necessary. It’s easy now to look over your shoulder and say, why did it take me this long to fall in love with You, Lord? Your journey is between you and God. It’s something that no one else can touch. And even God, through His goodness, preferred the stumbling and the flat tires we encountered paired with our free pursuit over a neon arrow pointing directly to His arms. He wanted a love story, not an unconditional script for our lives.

Know that your journey is important, and that when I fell off my bike, He continued to call me and shout to me, making my journey to Him all the more beautiful. He does the same for you.

Sit in the Light

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As my friends were leaving the room, I realized I was going to go back on my word. A couple hours ago I had told my friend Kelsey that I couldn’t go to 9 pm mass. “Eh, too busy today. I have to, ya know, order some books and stuff.” She’d understand, right? Well, of course she did, because she’s Kelsey. However, God knew I needed to be there. So as my friends walked out of our room giggling and excited for their night out, I began to feel lonely. I couldn’t hang out with them, and I was by myself. Jesus then pushed me to go to mass.

I walked through the back of church, trying to be quiet. I knew exactly where I’d sit: in the 8th pew that was in the dark so no one would see me. I was comfortable staying in darkness when I tripped over the kneeler trying to get to my perfect seat. My foot was in pain, my identity compromised, and my ego totally embarrassed. Kelsey was sitting a couple pews up in the light, and turned around before gesturing for me to go sit by her. I was so focused on staying back and not testing myself. But alas, God (through Kelsey) brought me into the light. Let’s be real, that’s what mass does. It takes us out of our timid darkness into the unsure yet beautiful light of Christ.

Thank you to Kelsey for always inviting me to be with God. Keep challenging me, please.

I Don’t Want Clean.

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I was ready for my life story to be clean. I was prepared for it to be simple and sweet. However, my life is not so. It’s messy and cracked in many places. A lot of things have become broken and worn over time. But then I think of a pristine reality: no cracks, no damage, and I don’t know where God would find room. Every time something breaks in my life, I have a choice: God glue or abandonment. I can either fill the pain with God, who could only mend such a crack in human hearts. Or I can leave it be, never mending the gash and allowing it to remain broken. If life wasn’t broken, we wouldn’t have space to let God in. It’s okay to have an oddly shaped puzzle or a confusing story book, because Jesus is the one who makes the puzzles and the stories make beautiful sense.

Why Jesus Is Your Soulmate.

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Have you ever heard of the 5 Love Languages? It’s actually a book written by Gary Chapman, and a website that contains a quiz identifying YOUR love language. Yes, I very much enjoy taking quizzes in order to learn more about myself (even if it’s the crazy ones like what age I’ll be married based on how I’d decorate my house haha). The 5 Love Languages include: Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, and Words of Affirmation. A couple years ago I took the quiz online and found out that I am most receptive to Words of Affirmation, and usually give Words of Affirmation or Gift Giving to show my love for someone else. The point of this book and quiz is to better identify the ways you feel love, and the way you love. This brings me to my next thought: what about Love Himself, Jesus? What would His results be?

So I have decided to dive into the 5 Love Languages and inform you why Jesus is The One for you. You two happen to be perfectly compatible 🙂

Acts of ServiceFor these people, actions speak louder than words. 

In John 19, it says: “When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” The greatest sacrificial act in all of history: God humbling Himself in order to die for a bunch of flimsy humans.

Physical Touch: To these people, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch. 

In Luke 13:10-13, it says: “He was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, ‘Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.’ He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.” When Jesus cures people in the Gospels, He usually rests His hands on them to show that He’s not afraid of their disease or shame.

Quality TimeThis language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.

In Matthew 14: 22-26, it says: “While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it.” Jesus, the night before the most nerve-racking day of His life, decides to spend time with His closest friends and share the Last Supper with them. He also institutes the Eucharist (no biggie) by giving His body and blood, then prays with His friends in the garden for many hours.

Receiving GiftsFor some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift. 

In Mark 6:34-44, it says: “Then taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to [his] disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied.” Christ provides. He doesn’t just preach kind words and tell everyone to love their enemies, but He feeds His people. He fills them physically and spiritually.

Words of AffirmationThis language uses words to affirm other people. 

In the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), it says: ” ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’ ” Jesus fills the world upside down with His new teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, but other than that, affirms our grace-filled actions by calling us “blessed”.

I hope these expressions of love show you how Jesus is Love, itself. He is perfect in all He does and is the greatest model for love that anyone could have. When you’re searching for love, search for Him. He cannot disappoint.

A Missing Pen

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It’s been a hard day. I went to a convent to pray, and I was all prepared. I was ready to tell God what I had to say. Ready to take my journal and write my feelings until my hand cramped. Prepared to write until my heart didn’t hurt anymore. I looked inside my backpack, and nothing. No pen. Of course, I forgot a pen. All I had was my devotional to read from. After being bummed out, I knew what God had done. “Just be, Maclaine.” But I’d gone through pain today and I wanted to tell Him about it. And He told me to just sit, and listen. God isn’t on our time, He’s on His. And though I wanted to spill my heart out to Him, He already knew what I’d gone through. He already had the solution for the hurt: Adoration. He led me to Himself and asked me to “just be still, and know that I am with you.” So yes, God loves when we share our days and our lives with Him, but let Him share His plan and His grace with you.

 

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