Friday, June 24, 2016

Nevermind, I am Leaving...

Please disregard the whole "I'm not leaving" post from hours earlier. I've officially withdrawn. Long story short: my financial aid was entirely revoked because of the 3.0 minimum. Without financial aid, I can't pay for my classes. "Wait, didn't you say the 2.7...?" Yep. That's what I thought as well. Financial aid is apparently a different beast. It didn't matter that I received a 2.85 in the Fall because of my car accident and having missed half the quarter. It didn't matter than I received a 3.0 this quarter.

I could technically appeal it but I'm not going to. An alumnus helped me there (seriously). I've made the choice to withdraw and go elsewhere. I didn't get kicked out; I've voluntarily chosen to leave instead of getting a private loan. It wasn't worth it to me. I'm already technically a student elsewhere (I never declined admission last year... oops); it's just a matter of whether I want to attend this other school or go elsewhere and do something else.

Maybe this is why I got sick the day of orientation and only felt better until I physically left. Maybe this is why health obstacles were put in my way. Maybe it's all just a bunch of coincidences. Who knows. All I know is that I'm no longer a JP Catholic student.

I wish them the best of luck. The program is great and the professors are very knowledgeable and I thank them for the past two quarters.

Onto bigger and better things. Verso l'alto!

Alright, I have a fever (I've had it since that headache I mentioned in the last post) and my body is starting to ache so I'm going to rest. Yes, having to leave school AND getting sick on the same day. What a lucky gal I am. lol.

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

I Almost Left Grad School

The past couple of days have been a bit of a crazy whirlwind of confusion, stress, and disappointment for me. Why?, you may be wondering (if you didn't see the Instagram post or get a long email from me). Simple: I almost left JP Catholic's graduate program and I had to come up with my final decision and options in two days (by today). 

Basically, it all boiled down to not having the GPA (or so I thought) to continue in the program. I believe I received an 86% final grade for my course (did well on everything except the essay portion of the final exam which hurt the final grade). Between this B and the 2.85 GPA from the disastrous Fall quarter, I have a 2.92 GPA. The GPA minimum was a 3.0. My brain automatically went "Mayday! Mayday!" 

As soon as I figure out my culminative GPA, I went into planning mode because I sure wasn't going to sit around and feel sorry for myself. While I waited for confirmation about having to leave the program, I looked into different things. I looked at the nearby school that has a Speech-Language Pathology program, having the option to finish the state requirements to start working as an SLPA (Speech-Language Pathology Assistant). I do have classes (in which I did well) under my belt from my time at Utah State. I also remembered that I had options to do my Theology degree elsewhere but, honestly, I wasn't super thrilled about any of the other programs (that I could do online). 

I kept trying to remind myself that I was sure that Theology was the path God wanted me to take but doubt momentarily crept into my mind. "What if I discerned my career path wrong? What if this was just so that I could get the Theology bug out of my system? What if this was just so I could grow spiritually?" I looked at jobs I can do in the Archdiocese with my BA degree and my work experience. A few came up but nothing that I was sure was a right fit for me. I looked at jobs out of state. Some were exactly what I wanted to do but then I remembered that my savings have been depleted and I have responsibilities in L.A. so no go.

I finally got word that the minimum GPA to stay in the program was lowered to a 2.7 as of this Spring so I could stay. My scholarship would be decreased by 20% but that wasn't a big deal for me. Though I could stay, I then wondered if I wanted to stay. While my professor is brilliant and I enjoy his classes, I've traditionally done poorly on the essay portion of his final exams. Sure, I do well on everything else but I tank on the essays in the final exams. "What if I can't get a good enough grade to keep the 2.7 minimum? What if I can't 'get' what the professor wants in the final exam?" Oh, "What Ifs...", my old anxiety-inducing friend. Nope, I wasn't going to go down that rabbit hole.

I reached out to those whom I trust and told them what happened. I needed prayer. I needed to figure out what to do. Some encouraged me to return to the SLP field. Others just listened and said they'd pray for me. One friend told me to get in touch with my professor and talk to him about what he's looking for on the final exam. Another encouraged me to stick it out for one more quarter before leaving (if I still wanted to leave). I still haven't heard back from my professor but I hope he does get back to me before the next quarter (which begins on Monday) is in its second week.

What it came down to was choosing what I feel God is calling me to do. I was honest with myself -- if I did SLP, I would mostly be doing it for the financial stability more than anything. Yes, it would help people out and I loved working with the kids when I did on-site/field hours but passion and my heart are in the Theology field. That much was pointed out by at least two people; it's clear that I'm in my element when it comes to Theology. All the "what ifs" started getting answered. "What if... I couldn't find a decent job in L.A. once I graduate?" I'll move. "What if... I bomb out and then owe the government even more money for the three quarters I spent at JP Catholic?" I'll find a job and pay it back somehow. "What if... the money isn't enough since the field is so hard to get into and doesn't pay that well?" God will provide somehow.

I feel a peace about the path I'm on but I did have some doubts while things were in limbo. I need to remember to trust God, even when things are momentarily topsy turvy. I still feel like this is what I'm meant to be doing so I'm going to continue. If my GPA isn't that stellar and I have to leave, well, I'll deal with that if it happens. I've already taken proactive steps into improving as a student (reaching out to my professor; being on top of my work) and improving my health (doctor prescribed iron pills, folic acid, and vitamin C to help with my anemia and dismal folate level). All I can do now is pray and work hard and see what happens in the future.

Anyway, just sharing this part of my journey. It's not always glamorous or fun but stuff like this happens. 

I'm currently experiencing a pretty blah headache (possibly a migraine) so I'm going to rest for a little while before I have to go pick up Mom from work.

I hope everyone has been doing well!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Prayer: Patience and Understanding

When I first tried praying it was entirely selfish. I prayed to get what I wanted... or thought I needed. Did I need a majority of what I prayed for? Nope. One of the last times I prayed in my teens, I prayed that my ex-boyfriend and I would work out our differences and that we'd stay together. I was kind of miffed when it didn't happen. In fact, we ended up breaking up only a week after I prayed. I didn't understand why my prayers hadn't been answered. Wasn't that how prayer worked?, I asked myself. It wasn't until much later that I realized that the break-up was a blessing; to this day he remains the most manipulative and dishonest boyfriend I've ever had.

Fast forward several years later. As I grew spiritually, I learned that sometimes our prayers don't get answered because it's not God's will for us; that He has something better in store. It wasn't overnight. Some of my reversion prayers included a lot of bargaining (big no-no!) so I'd get what I wanted. Eventually I began accepting that I could ask for something but that it wouldn't always be answered. I accepted it and tried to see the positive in unanswered prayers. My default is usually "well, I don't understand it but God knows what He's doing so I trust in Him."

It's really hard to see friends and family struggle with this. No matter how many times you try to explain things, and no matter how many times they say they understanding it, intellectually, they can still feel like God is ignoring them and their "needs" (usually wants).

Lately I had to see someone I'm incredibly close with go through this. Their prayer life and relationship with God was suffering because their prayers were going unanswered. I could see God doing so many wonderful things in their life but they refused to see it; all they could see is how they wanted something and they weren't getting it. I talked to them several times. "I get it in my mind... but I don't get it in my heart" was the usual response. Many prayers and novenas were prayed for them, asking for the gift of understanding for them; that their relationship with God not suffer.

In the past couple of days, God has slowly been revealing His reasons for not answering the prayers intentions the person had. This person now saw that prayer intention one was not answered like they wanted because there was something better planned for them. Prayer intention two was finally answered this week, after a long time (several months) of struggling with understanding why God hadn't answered it. "Now I get it," was what the person told me last night. I hope their relationship with God strengthens and their spiritual life grows after going through this.

Why am I sharing this? Because a) I know how hard it is to want to give up on prayer when we don't get what we think we need (but it's usually what we want and don't actually need) and b) because it's not always easy to help those who are struggling with this issue. Maybe the issue with the person isn't an unanswered prayer but a Church teaching. What I hope at least one person gets out of this blog post is that God is always listening; don't give up just because things aren't done how you want it and/or when you want it.

If your prayer isn't getting answered, it doesn't mean He's not listening. It may mean He has something better in store for you. Maybe it will get answered further down the line but you need to learn and/or grow before it can be answered. As for that person in your life who is struggling with it? Talk to them. If they can't "get it" remind them (when they bring up the subject, of course) that He's listening but answers sometimes take time. If it seems nothing is getting through, pray for them. Unceasingly. Sometimes praying for them -- for their patience, understanding, and struggles -- is exactly what they need. Even if you don't tell them you're praying for them, do it. Nothing is sadder than seeing someone's relationship with God suffering or getting close to becoming irreparable because of something like this.

Anywho, that's it for now. It's not as hot as it was yesterday (112 degrees F!) but I enjoyed my time away from the internet so I'm going to go read some books and stay cool (in my a/c cooled living room). Sorry, internet. ;)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Thirst for the Eucharist

I haven't attended Mass or gone to confession is three weeks. Three. It's not that I haven't wanted to go. I've been sick (ranging from digestive issues to dizziness and in between) and/or haven't been able to drive to Mass because of the heat. (side note for you new readers: I have a hereditary sensitivity to the heat and will get close to fainting in temperatures over 84 if I'm not in the shade with water or in an air conditioned place. My car hasn't had working air conditioning since my car accident last October.)

I miss going to Mass. I miss going to confession. I even miss feeling physically close to my home parish. It doesn't help that I've had a slew of temptations thrown my way, some of which I didn't think I'd have deal with. It was a nice reminder that I'm not as strong as I thought I was and that I'm susceptible to unexpected (to me) yet very human weaknesses. No, I need God. Very badly.

I hadn't read yesterday's Mass readings before I emailed one of my best friends, telling him that I felt as if my soul thirsted for God. Sounds dramatic but that's how it's felt lately. The longer I am kept from attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist, the more my soul desires it. Nothing and no one can satisfy it. Nothing and no one appeals to me more than receiving the Eucharist these days.

It occasionally feels like a physical emptiness, like a gaping hole in the middle of my chest. It's almost like a spiritual drought, except I've felt very close to God in the last week or so. Maybe it's because I haven't been able to physically receive Him that I've felt this way; maybe I feel close to Him because He wants to remind me that He's still here, even when I struggling with temptations and have yet to go to confession. Perhaps this is why St. Catherine of Siena (patroness against temptations) has been in my life more than usual lately. Yes, I just put two and two together there; I didn't even realize it until I wrote it out.

I continue to mess up in little ways, most of the time without intention. My struggle with scrupulosity (yes, I have been known to occasionally struggle with this as well) will make me beat myself up over a couple of things. I'm grateful that my best friends will bring me back to reality and remind me that no one is perfect and even saints had to deal with certain things. Still, I have moments in which I go "oh, God... I try hard but I just can't do this." I need His help more often than not.

I feel like my relationship with His is growing due to everything that's been going on lately... yet I feel awful for missing Mass and for having little life hiccups along the way. I guess I need to remind myself to trust in Him and His mercy more often. I sometimes fear being justly punished more than remembering that the Sacrament of Reconciliation exists for a reason.

Anyway, these are just some of the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my mind lately. I'm not entire sure why I shared this other than I was just inspired to. I hope someone can get something out of it. :)

Alright, it's almost the end of electricity base hours and we want to conserve energy since it's going to be at least 110 degrees F in L.A. today so I should skedaddle. Please say a prayer for me if you can and please feel free to send me your prayer requests as well. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Fatherless Father's Day

Every year there are three bittersweet days for me: my father's birthday (March 22nd), the day of his death (July 11th; coincidentally also St. Benedict of Nursia's feast day, patron of the dying), and Father's Day. Sweet because I'm reminding of the father I had and bitter because he's no longer here.

I can't tell you how annoyed I get when stores begin to send me their "Get your father the best gift..." emails. I want to reply "My father died years ago; please stop reminding me." I don't but I certainly think it with every email I get. Best Buy is especially annoying when it comes to that, by the way. I think I received no less than 5 emails about it over the last week or two.

It's so easy to dwell on the pain of no longer having my father here with me. Yes, even though he's been gone for almost 7 years now (7 years in a couple of weeks), it's not easy and it never will be. Though the pain is not as raw as it was years ago, I still miss him terribly. I don't think anyone ever fully "recovers" from their parents' deaths but we can be at peace knowing they're in a better place. My faith has helped me be and stay at peace even during particularly difficult moments.

Though things are hard, I've chosen not to dwell on them. Instead, I give thanks to God for having given me a wonderful father for the first 24 years of my life. I'm thankful that my father (who was notorious for forgetting my birthday every year) returned to the Church the day before my 24th birthday (his birthday gift to me), confessing to a priest and then receiving the Eucharist after being away from the Church for over 40 years. I'm also thankful that, the day before his death (almost exactly 24 hours before), a different kind of Father (a priest) came to administer the Last Rites to my father.

I choose to be thankful for all the men in my life who have been there for me since my father's death. First of all, shout out to God who is my heavenly Father and keeps loving and guiding this imperfect daughter of His. I'm grateful for my "big brother" (an older cousin who is like a brother to me), Pedro, who stepped up and became the "man of the house" in the years following my father's death until Mom and I were able to stand on our own. Seeing him with his own kids reminds me that there are good loving fathers out there. For my friends who became "uncles" and "big brothers" to me (and who have families of their own), who checked in on me (and still do), who've help guide me and have given me guy advice over the guys, I can't thank enough. And, last but certainly not least, to the Fathers (priests) whose guidance has helped both my mother and I grow spiritually in the last couple of years.

Even though I don't have my earthly father living anymore, I'm going to keep celebrating the other men in my life -- family members, those who are like family, my friends who are raising their children up beautiful, my priest friends (and priests in general). I'm going to pray for those who are hurting (those who've lost their fathers like I have), those who never knew their fathers, those who are fathers and are loving fathers to their children, and those who are fathers but don't know how to be fathers to their children's lives for whatever reason. I'm also going to pray for my future husband, that God helps him become the kind of father our future children need.

Maybe I should rethink the title as it seems that I won't have a fatherless Father's Day after all; not with all the wonderful father figures in my life. :)

Anyway, these are my thoughts on the day. To all my readers who are fathers (either biologically or spiritually), thank you for all the hard work and sacrifices you do for your children. I hope you have a lovely Father's Day tomorrow. :D

I hope y'all (men and women) have a great weekend. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D