Prepare the soil

“You have to take time to prepare the soil if you want it to embrace the seed.”

Soil is the foundation upon which trees and plants grow. It must be taken care of for plants to grow big and strong. The more prepared the soil, the bigger the plants grow, the better a flower blossoms. The better the ability a flower blossoms the better chance it has at displaying its beauty for all to see. The stronger the plant’s roots then the better it can withstand not only sunny days but stormy days. But for these to occur, the soil which a seed is planted in must be adequately prepared. Prior to planting a seed, soil must be nurtured through absorbing essential nutrients such as water and sunlight. If not prepared or maintained properly, any seed planted within that soil will struggle to grow.

The soil is our faith. Faith, like soil, is the foundation upon which we grow. Believing in God is our soil. The more we strengthen our foundation, our soil, our faith…the better we grow. Just like soil needs essential nutrients to prepare itself for seeds to be planted, our faith needs essential nutrients. Our faith needs constant exposure to essential nutrients for it to grow strong roots from the seeds planted. Take care of the soil each and every day. Strengthen the soil, strengthen the foundation each and every day. How do we go about preparing the soil? How do go about exposing the soil constantly with essential nutrients? The answer is quite simple to state yet difficult to put into action at times. We prepare the soil and strengthen the soil by constantly exposing it to faith based activities. What do I mean by “faith based activities”? What I mean is anything and everything! By any means necessary whether it’s reading the bible, listening to praise and worship songs, praying throughout the day, sharing with others your faith, communicating with others who are faithful, etc. There are endless methods in which to prepare your soil. Ultimately it comes down to how well you want your soil prepared. It comes down to how much are you willing to work on your soil, your faith? Prepare the soil. Strengthen your foundation in faith each and every day.

I’ve touched on how the soil is related to our faith. What about the seed which a soil embraces? What is the seed? The seed from which plants grow is us. It is our bodies, our minds, it’s us. As seeds grow into plants, they become stronger, taller, blossom into God’s beautiful creations. Every plant is different from another. Some are taller than others. Some are more colorful than others. Some have more pedals than others. Despite how different every plant is, we are all rooted in the same fashion. We are all seeds. We all embrace the soil upon which we are planted. As stated before the soil is our faith. It is the roots in which we grow. Seeds feed off the soil. Seeds use the nutrients within the soil to grow. As seeds grow their roots become more entrenched within the soil. However, if the soil isn’t prepared adequately the seed will struggle to grow. Prepare the soil. Strengthen the foundation of your faith each and every day so you, the seed, can grow and withstand all the sunny days and stormy days.

“You have to take time to prepare the soil if you want it to embrace the seed.” Constantly prepare the soil so you the seed can flourish. Faith and belief in God is our foundation yet without work our foundation becomes weak. As it becomes weak, we struggle to thrive. Do not struggle. Do not become weak. Build your foundation every day by any means necessary.

Am I Worthy?

“Am I worthy?” Three words. One powerful effect. It is a question that seems to creep in my mind, especially after experiencing failure.  I’ll be the first to admit I have failed at different areas of my life. I have failed at being a good friend. I have failed at being a boyfriend. I have failed at being a son. Worse of all, I have failed at being a good catholic.

When I say I have “failed” what I mean is that I have done actions or said things that are opposite of what it means to be a good friend, son, catholic, etc. It’s me not taking the high road. It’s me failing to act. It’s me going against principles and values that were taught to me. For example, one way I have failed at being a son is there was a point in my life when I moved away from home and I deliberately tried to drive away my family. I would never call them. I wouldn’t answer their calls. If they did reach me, I would say I was busy studying when in reality I was off doing God knows what (not anything good I can say that for sure). On multiple occasions I failed to uphold the values my parents tried to instill in me.  This is just one of a multitude of ways I have failed in my life.

Now, in the heat of the moment I do not see it as me failing to be a son, a catholic, etc. It is not until I get called out on the wrong I am doing that I then realize I have failed. It is not until I hit rock bottom that all my failures become known. It is at that point in time when the three worded question comes to mind…..“Am I Worthy?”

“Am. I. Worthy?” Once that question pops into the mind it opens the doors for a flood of negativity to burst through, for a flood of darkness to enter that drowns out whatever light I had left. I get consumed by the darkness, by the negativity telling myself “NO! You are NOT worthy!” Pretty soon the voices in my head get louder and louder telling me in various ways “I am not worthy to be called a son. I am not worthy of having a girlfriend. I am not worthy of all that I have been given. I’m not worthy of being forgiven.” It all finally gets to the point where I feel (and even once truly believed so much I almost acted on it) that I’m not worthy of living anymore. “Am I worthy?”… “No. I am not”.

False. That. Is. A. Lie. I AM worthy. All those voices in my heads telling me I’m not worthy to be called ‘son’, called ‘catholic’, to be loved and forgiven are nothing but lies. How do I know those negative voices are lies? How do I know that I am worthy? Because I’ve been told so by Him. Because He died for us.

Romans 5:8 “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” His love for us is unconditional. While we are sinners He loved us so much that He sent his only son to die for us. His son was sacrificed so we could be forgiven. While we continued to sin as Jesus made his way to get crucified, He still loved us unconditionally that he gave his life for us. He WILLINGLY died for us. That’s how great his love is for us. By dying on that cross ever so willingly, his love tells us that we are in fact worthy.

I’m positive I am not the only one who has ever asked himself “Am I worthy?”. In fact, there are times when we do feel unworthy…unworthy of being a friend, son, daughter, boyfriend, girlfriend, unworthy of being loved. In those moments we need to remember Jesus’ death. His death proves we are indeed worthy of anything in this world. His unconditional love proves we are worthy in that while we were sinners he WILLINGLY died for us, he CHOSE to die for us. That is true love. That is how he loves us. That is how we know we are worthy of anything. If we are worthy enough that Jesus Christ died for us, then we are more than worthy to be called son, father, friend, girlfriend, and most importantly…catholic.

Question: “Am I worthy?” Answer: “Yes I am. Always.”

Free As An Eagle

Life is fine, I’m doing alright
Then sin that’s quicksand takes hold.
On my own I try to escape,
But the sin sinks me deeper.
I need help to overcome.
What else can I do?

Hope, hope in the Lord.
He’ll set you free,
Soaring to new heights,
To a new horizon,
As free as an eagle.

When faced with a roadblock,
You may feel lost and lost hope.
All you need is to look up,
Up at that cross and you’ll see the light,
The light of Christ and

Hope, hope in the Lord.
He’ll set you free,
Soaring to new heights,
To a new horizon,
As free as an eagle.

He pulls you out of the darkness.
He pulls you into the light.
His warm embrace renews your strength
To be as free as the birds in the sky, so

Hope, hope in the Lord.
He’ll set you free,
Soaring to new heights,
To a new horizon,
As free as an eagle.

Love – Easy Yet Difficult

John 15:12 “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”

Easy enough to say and hear; yet probably the most difficult to do. To love one another is an action. Not just AN action is in ONE action but INFINITE CONTINUOUS actions. Just as it is a difficult commandment to live out in our lives, it is a difficult commandment to discuss. I say this because we personally have our own ideas of loving one another, our friends and family have their own ideas of what it means to love one another, society has another idea of what it means, and even the media has formed their own idea of what it means to love one another. Additionally, there are many aspects and roads one can take to talk about loving one another. You can discuss HOW to love one another. WHY you should love one another. WHAT is loving one another. WHO is that ‘one another’ we should love.

Even with these examples, it is difficult to focus on a single aspect of loving one another and then assume you’ve explained perfectly that verse. Love is a subject with infinite room for discussion. In fact, I truly believe you can write an encyclopedia collection full of only loving one another. Furthermore, that encyclopedia collection…that only takes into account YOUR opinion, YOUR experiences, and YOUR knowledge. It does not take into account opinions, experiences, or knowledge of everybody else. As for me, I feel called to write about John 15:12 on exactly how difficult I perceive it to live as well as ways we’re supposed to love on another.

“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” It’s easy to put into action this commandment when it concerns family and close friends. Correction, I should say it’s “easier” to live this commandment because there are times we fail to exhibit love to family and friends. Nevertheless, when compared to strangers, loving family and friends as God loves us is easier to perform. Think about it. You are confronted by a close friend or family who asks for a couple bucks. Now you are confronted by a complete stranger off the street who asks for a couple bucks. Which of the two are you more willing to show love by donating a couple bucks? How about this one. You are walking on the street and you see a good friend walking towards you. How do you react? 9 times out of 10 you would smile a huge smile, say good morning, wave, and probably even ask how they’re doing. Now you are walking on the street and see a complete stranger, who some perceive as homeless, walking towards you. How do you react? 9 times out of 10 most of you would put your head down as if you were looking at something important on your phone, as if you didn’t see that stranger. Eye opening right, when you truly think about it? Acts of love you perform without hesitation to family and friends, well, you tend to hesitate, question yourself, and not do when faced with a stranger.

I’ll be the first to admit I have done just that. Not once but on multiple occasions. Why is that? Why are we more willing to love one another as God loved us when it pertains to family and friends, but we hesitate to love strangers like God loves us? Why? Well, there is no definitive answer. The answer to that question differs with each one of us. That question has infinite answers. I can however provide what I believe to be two aspects of what love is. Specifically, love that God loves us with.

Now, practicing Catholics, when asked how God loved us will provide what I perceive as the top two answers: He forgives, and He sent his son to die for us (sacrifice). I base these top two responses off personal experience through asking of friends and families. They are just observations I have witnessed and heard throughout the years. Nevertheless, typical responses include forgiving and sacrificing. Referring to John 15:12, we are to love one another as God loves us. So we are supposed to love others through acts of forgiveness and sacrifice (not sacrificing another human because nowadays that’s pretty much frowned upon and illegal but sacrifice of other things like time, money, etc.). However, there is so much more to love that God displayed on us than just forgiveness and sacrifice.

Through His son Jesus, love was learned to be more than forgiveness and sacrifice. Those are great ways to show love, however there are other aspects which are just as important as those two. Characteristics of love were not only talked about but were displayed by Jesus through His actions. There are numerous accounts of the various characteristics of love God showed us through the teachings of Jesus. Teaching through action provides us with imagery to fall back on instead of memorizing a few lines here and there. So what exactly are other characteristics of love which God loves us with? The list is endless.

“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” Love is many characteristics. I am pointing out a few I believe are most difficult to put into action with one another, especially strangers. Love is PATIENT. Love is KIND. Love is UNDERSTANDING. These three characteristics alone are too much to dive into and examine for this one post. Therefore, I present a series of questions. Ask yourself, how PATIENT are you to friends? To family? To strangers? How do you define (in words and actions) PATIENCE? Now ask yourself, how KIND are you to friends? To family? To strangers? How do you define (in words and actions) KINDNESS? Finally, ask yourself, how UNDERSTANDING are you with friends? With family? With strangers? How do you define (in words and actions) UNDERSTANDING?

Self-Control

Proverbs 25:28 “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Powerful verse that speaks volumes once contemplated. Self-control is the difference between us making a right choice or a wrong choice. Defined, self-control is the “ability to control oneself, in particular ones emotions and desires, especially in difficult situations”. We are all granted this important and necessary ability. This ability of self-control. However, I find that we limit ourselves and our capability to control ourselves, especially in difficult moments. It’s all too easy to give into our emotions and desires (those of the negative and sinful type). When negative emotions and desires begin to surface, we are faced with making a choice: right or wrong. And when we don’t show self-control, that’s when we become “like a city broken into and left without walls”.

When I read about “a city broken into…” I imagine a city in ancient times such as the time of Troy and the wooden horse. I also imagine a city in medieval times with the castle being the city mentioned. For further clarification if those examples are not helpful, picture a peaceful city which is defended all around by walls to keep out those who wish to destroy the city. A peaceful city whose inhabitants are living peaceful lives; not much chaos, not much turmoil. A city thriving. Now let self-control begin to withdraw. Let self-control begin to leave the city. What you end up with is a city broken into.

A city broken into whose wall fell. A wall which has been built up over time. A wall that has been reinforced strengthened and improved over time. Every city, if imagined as a castle in medieval times, is built with thick cement walls. We (our body and our mind) are the city. The wall is our faith. The reinforced strength of the wall is our faith that gets reinforced. Reinforcement of the wall, of our faith, is through those moments when we exhibit self-control. Through those moments when we don’t give into the negative emotions and desires but instead use self-control to make the right choice. We are the city. Faith is the wall. Self-control is the reinforcement/strengthening of the walls. Once we stop using self-control, we stop reinforcing the wall. We stop reinforcing our faith. As we continue to not use self-control, we all together stop reinforcing our walls. Consequently, if we aren’t reinforcing the wall what will happen is the wall will begin to lose strength. As the wall loses strength, the city becomes more and more vulnerable to attacks. Stated earlier we are the city. Faith is the wall. If we lose self-control our faith begins to deteriorate. Furthermore, we leave ourselves open to sinful temptations. As sinful temptations begin to attack us, the city, the end result is havoc within the city.

When a city gets broken into, havoc ensues. This havoc damages the city from the inside, destroying it slowly. Inside the city, there is no control, no order, instead panic spreads. Within the city there is no more feeling of hope. The havoc caused by sin that attacks us leaves us, the city, worn down on our knees looking for somewhere to turn. Once the chaos has subsided, the city’s walls have been broken down and this is where “left without walls” comes into play.

Walls that once stood high enough to touch the heavens and thick enough to withstand any attack are now broken down to rubble. After the chaos and havoc, there is a need to rebuild what was broken down. To rebuild the wall and reinforce its strength becomes priority. And as we rebuild the walls, we are more aware of improving the self-control we once had. However, it takes time to rebuild our wall, our faith. During the rebuilding process, we are still extremely vulnerable to attacks from sin and temptations. We the city are exposed and left easily unguarded to the havoc temptations can cause. However now, during the rebuilding process we exhibit more self-control through the improved awareness we have. And that self-control we exhibit helps reinforce the wall’s strength.

Rebuilding is a process. We rebuild using the methods we first used when we built up our wall prior to it being destroyed. Additionally, we learn of other techniques so that the new wall we build is even more improved and stronger than before. It is vital to acknowledge how the wall was destroyed and failed us the city. If we truly understand how the wall fell, we can then learn new techniques so the walls won’t fall from the way they did before. If we truly understand how our faith took a hit, then we can learn how to prevent our faith from taking a hit like before. Even more, as we exhibit more self-control we begin to see our faith strengthening.

Self-control is important ability to utilize always. It is Christ-like behavior when we use self-control. Not using self-control at times doesn’t mean we are weak and unworthy. It just means we made a mistake and there is a need for improvement and further strengthening. We are all capable of using self-control when faced with negative situations and in difficult moments. Exhibiting self-control is Christ-like behavior which He used throughout the bible. Christ is in each of us. Therefore, the ability to exhibit self-control is as well. “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Let us not suffer the consequences of “a city broken into and left without walls”, instead let us have a city thriving with self-control.

Doubt

James 1:6 “But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.” When I read about one who doubts that is like a wave of the sea which gets tossed about by the wind, I imagine and picture chaos, turmoil, damage. Waves in the sea can flow calmly as I’ve seen in early calm mornings in California and Hawaii. There is a smooth, rhythmic, peaceful movement with these waves. Comparing calm waves to a person is tough but when you really think about it, there are similarities.

As I mentioned when waves are calm there is a smooth, calm, peaceful aurora about it due to a light peaceful breeze. With us, when doubt is kept at bay, we too begin to have a sense of calm, peace, smooth movement through life. The waves flow with so much ease. We flow through life with so much ease. However, once we let doubt to begin to build up in strength we see our smooth, flowing, rhythmic calm becomes disrupted and chaotic just like that of waves disrupted and tossed about by strong disastrous winds.  What I visualize when James mentions “tossed about by the wind” is a nasty disastrous storm such as a hurricane with strong, powerful winds. The destructive winds cause waves to crash into its surroundings and cause damage. The waves lose their calm. There is no more flow. There is no more rhythm. There is no more peace. Instead there is chaos. There is no sense of direction. The waves turn every which way. And as the winds continue to build in strength, the waves become more unstable and more destructive breaking down all that has been built up. The same illustration is displayed with us when doubt consumes us. The more doubt we allow to build up, the less peaceful we waves begin to experience, and the greater possibility of destruction begins to set in.

The destruction I am writing about, in my view, is not that of physical destruction to properties but rather that of mental destruction within and around us. It is the destruction that tears down positives within us such as our sense of accomplishment, our sense of belief in ourselves, and ultimately our sense of hope. Destruction from doubt brings about an unstable component within us. Being unstable within causes us to question everything we do, everything we hear, and everything we plan to do instead of relying on our faith. As we question we start to become chaotic waves who lose their sense of flow, their sense of direction. Ultimately this chaotic, unstable feeling we develop leads us to become lost. We get lost due to letting the strong doubtful winds toss us waves off our course God had set us on. That doubt is strong enough to influence us as it simultaneously quiets the voice of God within us. Consequently, doubt becomes intense enough that we become scared of continuing the path God has for us. We lose our sense of direction and ultimately become lost. However all is not lost.

Waves tossed chaotically by strong winds eventually return to their normal states of peace and calm, to their smooth, rhythmic flow. This happens due to God calming the strong winds back down to that of light breezes. Like the newly calmed waves we too can return from chaotically destructed and lost with no direction back to a sense of peace, direction, and calm rhythmic flow. How is this possible? By not trying to control ourselves, but instead by letting God calm down the doubt just as He calms the strong winds of the sea. We LET God calm US down through prayer, praise and worship, friends and various avenues He creates for us as we flow through the sea of life.