Saturday, September 26, 2015

Jesus, I Trust in You


Trusting God is one of those things I have always struggled with. I'm naturally a planner, a worrier, an overthinker. I like things to be a certain way. I dislike change that disrupts the way things are, when I like the way things are. I fret over little details, I over-analyze situations, I worry about what's going to happen in the future.

Letting go and letting God, as they say, is hard for me. To resign myself to whatever God decides to let happen, to whatever God's will may be, whether it's in line with what I want or not, makes me so nervous.

It shouldn't though, should it? My aunt said something at my grandpa's funeral a few weeks ago that, though it was a small comment, resonated with me. She said something about how God always knows exactly what we need and always gives it to us, "yet we silly humans still always worry. But we really don't need to, do we?"

In the last couple of weeks, Jesus has been trying really hard to get me to trust him. He has been speaking to me, sending me little hints and messages, and inviting me to trust him.

I'll tell you about a series of little things that happened to me last week.

The first thing happened when I was reading my homework from the Catechism of the Catholic Church for my Sacred Doctrine class. (I know, right?? I get to read the CCC ~ for homework. I love my school.) One particular passage really struck me when I read it:

"God is truth itself, whose words cannot deceive. This is why one can abandon oneself in full trust to the truth and faithfulness of His word in all things." (from CCC 215)

The key words that stood out to me were "truth," "abandon," and "trust." We can abandon ourselves to God in complete trust, because He is truth itself. This passage resonated with me, and gave me a little boost of inspiration to try to trust God more fully.

Just a few hours later, a second thing happened, while I was at work at the library. I was closing up for the night, making my usual trek around the library, pushing in chairs and picking up trash. I noticed a small piece of paper on a desk, and as I picked it up to throw it away, I realized it was a note. Curious, I read it, and it said:

"You ARE strong enough.
You DO have what it takes.
And GOD is ALWAYS at
your side, cheering you on
and pulling you through. Trust."
And on the back of the note:
"Love from,
                 a friend. :) "

That last word of the note is what struck me. After a few slightly cheesy but inspiring lines of encouragement, the note ends with an emphatic one-word sentence ~ a firm but inviting imperative: "Trust." And it really struck me ~ especially after what I'd just read in the Catechism only a few hours earlier about trusting God. 

The third and final little thing, arguably the weirdest of the three, happened the next day. I attended 5:00pm Mass, and after it ended, I exited my pew, genuflected, and turned around to leave. An older man, who I believe was sitting in the pew behind me, but who I didn't know at all, was standing there holding something out to me. It was a holy card, and for a second I thought maybe he'd found it on the floor, thought it was mine, and was returning it to me. Confused, I started to say something, and got as far as, "Oh -- ," when he looked right at me with his brow furrowed slightly, and held the holy card out closer to me, and nodded. He was giving it to me; he wanted me to take it. So I took it, and thanked him and walked away. Then I looked down at the holy card, and realized it was of the image of the Divine Mercy ~ which of course says on it, "Jesus, I trust in You."

I was floored. I thought, "Okay, this is just too weird! I think Someone is trying to tell me something!" All three of these occurrences happened in a span of less than 24 hours, all got progressively weirder and more random, and all shared a common theme: trust.

I know Jesus was definitely behind it all, trying to get that message across to me. He wants me to trust him. He is inviting me to trust him. He is begging me to trust him. And not just partially trust him or just trust him in some things ~ but to surrender myself completely to him in total trust.

After these three crazy things happened, I went to the adoration chapel to pray on it and journal it. As I did so, I felt Jesus telling me that I should do a trust fall into his open, loving arms... That they are ready to receive me, they want to receive me ~ I just need to trust.

I think that goes for all of us. Hard as it can be, we should give the Lord our complete, unreserved trust. We have no reason to worry, or to be afraid, or to overthink. We should not rely on our own plans or try to control everything that happens in our lives. God knows what He's doing, because He is truth itself ~ and He holds us in the palm of his hand.

So join me in trying to trust God more each day. If we take the plunge, if we do the trust fall, He will catch us.

Jesus, I trust in You.
Jesus, I trust in You.
Jesus, I trust in You.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

7 Money Saving Hacks for College Students

For us college students, making and saving money are of the utmost importance, because unfortunately, the term "broke college student" is usually all too true. In college, we find ourselves trying to juggle a full course load, extracurricular commitments, and social activities, all while working a job to pay for day-to-day necessities, not to mention our tuition. It can be a struggle, since, sadly, money doesn't grow on trees.

In my two (going on three) years of college, I've discovered a few little ways to save money on my expenses, and I'd like to share them with you today. Some of them are obvious, some are resourceful, some are small tricks ~ and all are helpful in trying not to break the bank (or whatever exists of it).


1. Make the most of your meal plan.
Really take advantage of the food available to you at school, since you're already paying an arm and a leg for your it anyways. It's fine, of course, to buy snacks to keep in your dorm room for those in-between times when you get hungry. But, even though cafeteria food isn't the best, try not to skip meals there only to spend money on a meal elsewhere. That's wasting the money you're already paying for your meal plan, and spending more money out of your own pocket unnecessarily.

2. Use plastic grocery bags as trash bags.
Any time you go to the grocery store or make a Target run, save all your plastic bags instead of throwing them away, and use them for garbage bags. They're the perfect size for small trash cans, so this little trick will save you from having to spend money on trash bags.

3. Use a refillable water bottle instead of buying water bottles.
Instead of constantly buying packs of disposable Dasani water bottles, invest in one or more hard water bottles (usually made of plastic or stainless steel) ~ the kind you might bring to a sports practice or on a camping trip. You can find these for pretty cheap at stores like Walmart (I once bought one there for 88 cents), and you can fill them up anytime at the water fountains around campus.

4. Use every last bit of something before buying a replacement.
This applies to things like shampoo and conditioner, dish soap, saline solution, peanut butter ~ anything that you eventually use up. Whenever you use these things, try to use only the minimum amount that you need ~ for instance, don't use a handful of shampoo when you really only need a quarter-sized amount. Use up every ounce of an item that you possibly can, and when you finally can get nothing out of it anymore, then go spend the money on a new one.

5. Reuse things from year to year.
Only used up half a notebook for a class last semester? Use the other half for a class the second semester. Have a pile of folders and binders at the end of the year? Don't get rid of them ~ save them for next year. This applies to other kinds of items too ~ at the end of last year, I stored half a box of dryer sheets, a mostly full container of Advil, half a pack of pens, and other partially used items over the summer. Then they were waiting for me when I came back to school in the fall, and it saved me from having to buy new ones.

6. Save your change.
Empty all the change bulging out of your wallet and put it in a jar or a cup. Do this often ~ maybe even every time you get change ~ and over time, you'll accumulate a surprisingly sizeable amount of money! This trick is a great money saver not only for college, but also for life in general. For instance, my sister and I did saved our spare change for a year leading up to our trip to England, and after splitting the savings between us, we each ended up with almost $150. And voila, there was our souvenir money!

7. Take advantage of sales and coupons.
I know I'm stating the obvious a bit, but these really are legitimate money savers. When you're shopping for your necessities, like food items, laundry supplies, or toothpaste, save money wherever you can. Buy the toilet paper that's on sale instead of the other kind. Take advantage of buy-one-get-one-free deals. Buy the off-brand for some items. Doing these little things can add up to considerable savings.

Do you have any tips or tricks for saving money?

Sincerely,
~Stephanie

Friday, September 11, 2015

On Loss, Suffering, Love, + Gratitude

Sometimes things happen in life that we don't understand. Sometimes these things are tragic, or scary, or heartbreaking. Sometimes they happen unexpectedly, and hit you out of nowhere like a ton of bricks. Or sometimes they happen not so unexpectedly, but that doesn't make the burden any easier to bear.

I've had many such instances in my life, especially during my college years so far. The day I got dropped off for my freshman year, one of my oldest + dearest childhood friends was hit by a car and suffered a traumatic brain injury, and nearly died.

Less than six months later, the 22-year-old daughter of friends that my family has known almost my whole life died from cystic fibrosis.

The day I came home for the summer after freshman year, my mom was hospitalized for chest pains that turned out to be a heart attack. She had to undergo open heart surgery to fix the problem.

Then during the first month of my sophomore year, my mom had to undergo another surgery to remove a mass that, thankfully, turned out not to be cancerous.

Other things happened during the two-year course of these events too. My family almost lost our house. I went through a breakup. My dad lost his job (again), adding to the on-again, off-again unemployment he's dealt with since I was 13, and he decided to change careers.

Then just a couple weeks ago, on August 28, days before the start of my junior year, my grandpa passed away. My sister and I had to fly home to Michigan halfway through the first week of classes to attend his funeral.


I grew up with my grandparents. My grandma + grandpa, as well as my other grandma, have lived 40 minutes away from me or less since the day I was born. They have always been involved in my life, from babysitting me when I was little, to attending every music + dance recital in elementary school, to being there for every important event in middle + high school, including choir concerts, plays, + graduation. In addition, we've always spent every holiday with grandparents + extended family, celebrated every birthday with them, and made frequent, random visits to their houses. This is how my life + my relationship with my grandparents has always been. And I realize that I am tremendously lucky + blessed because of it.

But it does make losing one of my beloved grandparents all the more difficult.

A large portion of my extended family was able to be present when my grandpa passed away, but my sister and I were stuck helplessly in Florida. Thankfully, we had the chance to call up to the hospital just hours before he died. My aunt held the phone up to my grandpa, who couldn't speak or open his eyes or move anymore, and we talked to him one last time. We told him that we wished we could be there, that we were thinking of him and praying for him, and that we loved him.

And my aunt told us that while we spoke to him, his breathing changed slightly, and his eyes fluttered a bit. He could hear us and understand us. And, even though he'd suffered from dementia and hadn't really recognized us in several years, I believe that in that moment, he knew us again.


In fact, my aunt said that in his final hours, he was Grandpa again. He knew everyone again, and he understood everything. And, feeble and dying though he was, he was looking after everyone, just like he always used to. Reassuring my aunt (his daughter) that he would be okay. Asking my grandma (his wife) to sit beside him and hold his hand. Waiting for my mom and dad (his son), who were traveling home from taking Bridget and I to Florida, to arrive at the hospital so he could say goodbye to them. They were the last family members to arrive, and he passed away 20 minutes after they got there.

Bridget and I were able to fly home the night before the funeral to be there for what turned out to be a beautiful service. It was a day of intense emotions, because on one hand, I was genuinely happy to see so many dear friends and family members from near and far, yet at the same time, I was heartbroken over the reason we were seeing each other.

But it was such a blessing to be together, to hug each other, cry together, comfort each other, smile together, lean on each other, and mourn together.


I was sufficiently drained emotionally by the end of the day and felt exhausted. But I was extremely grateful for my time with family, and that I was able to come home for the funeral. And I am thankful, most of all, for my grandpa's life. He meant so much to so many people, and, while my family mourns his loss and misses him dearly, we know he is in a better place. We have hope in Christ, that He will have mercy on my grandpa's soul and grant him his eternal reward.

And, as one dear family friend pointed out, now I have another intercessor in heaven.

Rest in peace, Grandpa.

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. {1 Thess. 4:13-14}
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...