Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Written Wednesdays #2: Quick Beats and Novel News

My lack of blog posts lately has been due to both a busy schedule and less time spent online. I have a lot to share but, goodness, not enough hours during the day to do so. I had a couple of free hours today so I've been catching up on emails, reading other articles, and (now) blogging.

I've actually scheduled a blog post into my crammed schedule for every Wednesday, even if no articles of mine get published the previous week. I hope this means you'll be hearing from me at least once a week. ;)

I still have a lot of stuff to do and not enough hours to finish them in so here we go with some quick beats.

I finally get a chance to share with y'all more written content! Hooray! I don't have a say in when things get published on EpicPew, CatholicChemistry, or Verily Magazine. Sometimes one website will space articles I've already written out over a couple of weeks or months or they'll have them in the drafts for a week or two for whatever reason. Hopefully, I'll have something to share next week as well but, again, it's up to the editors. :) For now, here are four new articles for y'all.

1) 20 Prayers for Busy People on the Go (September 20, 2018)
2) 10 Quotes the Saints Definitely Didn't Say (September 20, 2018)
3) 15 Things All Catholic Women Love (September 27, 2018)

Verily Magazine:
1) Tips for the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) in High-Energy Environments (October 2, 2018)

Novel news: I know, I know... the third novel was supposed to be out in the summer. Due to summertime craziness and a deluge of work I had in recent weeks (thank you, God; please send more!), it's been on hold since I still have to finish editing it and also finish the cover. Yes, I'll also be doing the cover so, you know, lots of work! I'm aiming the new publishing date to be on November 22nd, the feast of my confirmation patroness, St. Cecilia. If anything else comes up, I'll update y'all but it seems like it's finally going to happen.

And that's it for now! Did I mention I have given myself an 8 p.m. cut-off time for online things which means I have roughly 2 hours to finish this blog post and catch up on several emails? I'll let you all know how this experiment goes. Yes, it has to do with changes I'm also making to my spiritual life so you'll be getting details about it. ;)

I hope you all have a lovely rest of the week!

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Why September, God? And What About My Vocation?

September has been associated with my spiritual life since my reversion. Well, really, since my baptism.

I was baptized on September 1st, 1985 in my hometown of Los Angeles, CA when I was only 3 months old.

I officially reverted to the faith during the first week of autumn, September 2006, when I was 21.

I saw on the "On This Day" Facebook memories that I had written, "I hear you, God. Loud and clear" on this day 4 years ago.

This year, I've been going through a major spiritual awakening (if I can call it that) that heavily involves our Blessed Mother.

I dislike summer (oh, how I really dislike it) and I start counting down the days until the autumn season official begins starting in July-August. I used to think that it was because I loved school and fall semester was the start of the academic year. It was either that or perhaps because I disliked summer very much due to my terrible memories associated with it (past illnesses, my father's death, etc.). Now I'm thinking that perhaps there's something more.

As I said, this year it seems like my major growth will involve our Blessed Mother. This is something that, like my reversion, began in June but isn't really becoming clear until this month. It started with my consecration but it's been building up steadily over the past couple of weeks/months.

Earlier this week, I posted a tweet which somehow blew up (I've never had that many "likes" or "retweets" before) based on an experience I had.

This is actually something I've been wanting to write about for a while but, for whatever reason, I never did until a couple of days ago.

Upon some very heavy (and prayerful) reflection, I realized just how much I desire to be a wife and mother. I mean, I've known this was what I've felt called to as my ultimate vocation but it didn't really settle into my heart until a few weeks ago. I want nothing more in this life than to get married, have a family, and completely dedicate myself to taking care of them; to doing what I can to ensure that they all make it to Heaven at the end of their lives.

However, I haven't been able to voice this without opposition... even within my own household. I get these comments about how I'll be throwing away my life; how I would be throwing away my entire education (and how my student loans will never pay themselves off) if I devoted myself to having and raising a family. I get told that having a career is more important; that if I don't have one and I get stuck with a deadbeat husband who will cheat on me and eventually divorce me, I'll have nothing to fall back on and support my own family. All of these things I've heard throughout my entire life -- ever since I was a little girl -- and they instilled a major fear in me that I haven't been able to shake off until recently.

This is where our Blessed Mother comes into my life. I've come to slowly lose that fear through my recent devotion to praying the Angelus; to the reflections I have when I meditate on her fiat. Without knowing what was ahead, she said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38, DRA) Even writing it now, I feel myself wanting to tear up because it's so beautiful. She said "yes" to God's will and His plans without fear... which is something I've sadly been unable to do in my own vocation discernment.

I see what a beautiful witness she is to the world. She was so humble and (to those who don't recognize what an important role she played in humanity's salvation) she did "nothing extraordinary." She was a wife and a mother, taking care of her household and of her family. It seems like such an ordinary life -- and, in that sense, it was -- but she did extraordinary things in her simplicity and humility. The more I think about it and about her life, the more I aspire to become more like her. Of course, I will never get anywhere close to being like her but I can by trying to be the best wife and mother I can be. 

Yes, there is the little hitch that I'm still woefully single. If I'm completely honest, I fought the idea of dating for as long as I could because of those fears so many women instilled in me -- that finding good, faithful men was impossible; that I should just resign myself to the idea that I would get hurt by them and thus make myself strong for the inevitable. What a horrible, jaded, and fearful view I had of the vocation of marriage. No wonder I was always reluctant to date.

Full disclosure: I actually didn't go on my first real date until a couple of weeks ago, for that same reason. Yes, I'm 33 but I didn't go on my first date because of that lifelong fear. It took a lot for me to work up the nerve to allow myself to date and to say "Yes" to God's will for my life. I'm done worrying about what could happen. I'm going to fully trust God to lead me to the right man and to not fear my vocation. (side note: there's still no fella in my life, despite the date, but the hope remains!)

All of this is happening in the month of September. Why September, God? And what about my vocation? I don't even know where to start with that... well, beyond preparing myself for when the time comes. Even then, there's only so much I can do on my own.

Please say a prayer for me, y'all. I feel like God (through our beautiful Mother) is helping me shed fears and awakening something in my heart that has been dormant for a long time. Besides a deep yearning for going to daily Mass and immersing myself in learning more about the vocation of wife and of motherhood (using Mama Mary and various saints as examples), I feel like God is doing some major work in my interior life that is just about to radically change my life.

Anyway, I just felt like sharing this with y'all. I have no "Written Wednesday" update for you this week because EpicPew still hasn't posted what I wrote last week and I don't know when the other two sites (CatholicChemistry and Verily Magazine) will post the articles I've written for them as well. I'll keep you updated. ;)

I hope you are all having a lovely week thus far! And, if you're observing Ember Days like I am, keep going! It's only 2 more days after this. ;)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

God's Plans for Me and Written Wednesdays #1

A couple of big things happened to me recently, most life-changing.

First, I got to help on a project for a huge Catholic ministry/company. I don't think I'm allowed to say who it was for (and I know, for sure, that I can't say what it was on) but let's just say I proofread a manuscript for a very well known Catholic author/speaker. It was my first experience as a proofreader and I was a bit intimidated since I didn't know what to do. Still, I mustered up the courage I had and I dove right in. I loved the experience and I hope it opens up new doors for future projects either with this company or other companies. Also, I will be recommending the book to friends when it gets published because it was that good.

Second, I started on another major project but this one is a lot more personal and it will take some time to complete. I'm almost two weeks into it and I'm nowhere near being done. Long story short, I was fortunate enough to catch up with someone whom I highly respect; someone who has been there for me -- mentoring me when they can -- for years. Sure, we will sometimes catch up via social media but it's always good to really catch up either in person or through a phone call since it's easier than just via messages. 

During our time catching up, I believe the Holy Spirit used him to get some very clear messages across to me; things I didn't particularly want to hear but most definitely needed to hear. And, if I'm being completely honest, things that were way overdue; things I should've dealt with a long time ago. It was one of those wake-up calls that feels like you've just been waiting for it. Does that make sense? For months, I've felt like God has been preparing for something major but I haven't exactly known what or how. I had an inkling what area of my life it would involve but I wasn't sure if it was just wishful thinking. I got a much clearer "this is part of my plans for you" message from God with this conversation. What I've embarked on since this conversation took place will only help me get what I feel God is ultimately leading me towards.

I currently can't openly talk about it because this feels like something that God wants me to do -- to experience -- and see through before I can share it with everyone else. I will share it someday when I feel like I've finally reached the destination God is pushing (a very reluctant) me towards... but it's not the time yet. I will just bookmark this blog post for future reference. All I will say is that it's going to be a very exciting time in my life; one I've been waiting a very long time to finally reach (when God thinks I'm finally ready to get to that point). How's that for vague, eh? lol. And if you've noticed a recent change, yes, that's very much the direction things are headed in. Good eye!

All I'm going to ask is that you all keep me in your prayers. There are various components that need to fall into place for it to work. I'm doing my part (and it's a major overhaul on my part; you'll know all about it when the time come) but there's only so much I can do. All of this is going to require me to trust God in a way I never have before; to abandon myself to his Divine Providence and follow His lead. As I said, I'm doing my part but it feels like a team effort with God has the (obvious) leader. I'm just following Him and I look forward to seeing where His love and will takes me.

Before I close this blog post, I wanted to share something new I want to do; it's called "Written Wednesdays." Basically, I'm going to share what I've written in the past week that's been published around the 'net since some of you don't have social media (shocking, I know, lol) and still, want to read articles of mine that get published.

Articles published in the last month (will become weekly after this post):


And that's it for now. I have a lot still do (have I mentioned that this big project takes up most of my day, most days?) and I want to get to it before I call it a night. I'm trying to use the laptop and social media as little as possible these days so once the laptop runs out of juice, that's it until tomorrow. :)

I hope you're all having a lovely week thus far!

As always, thank you for reading and God bless!  :D

Saturday, September 1, 2018

This is What Happens When I Pray the Entire Rosary Daily...

Only 2 blog posts for the entire month of August?! Goodness, I was more swamped with work than I thought. Not that I'm complaining! I'm so grateful that I was given the opportunity to write for a new website as well as being able to proof a manuscript that I will eventually be able to share with y'all; the name of the manuscript, not the actual thing. Triple the amount of work. I ended the month tired but very happy.

I keep asking God to send me more work if writing is my (small v) vocation and I keep getting new work so... Your will, God, not mine. I learned (the hard way) that doing what I thought was the right path -- due to my own fears -- never ends well. I'll keep letting God guide me since He always knows the best path for my life; I know nothing. lol.

Anyway, I now have time to blog so I wanted to share with y'all my experience with praying the entire Rosary daily. And, by the way, when I say "entire Rosary" I don't mean just whatever Mysteries are assigned for the day. I mean all 15 traditional Mysteries.

Before I get any "you're such a trad snob" comments, yes, I will occasionally incorporate the Luminous Mysteries on Thursdays but I tend to stick to the traditional ones. If you want to do all 20, go for it. I prefer doing the traditional 15, even when I do the 54-day Rosary novena (which we're going to be doing again this year).

I got the idea for praying the entire Rosary after reading The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort. I read it at the beginning of summer and I've tried to do it as often as I can. Some days, I can only manage one full Rosary (e.g. Glorious Mysteries on Sundays) because of crazy busy my day is or because of how terrible my fatigue is but I can usually do more than one. I have noticed one thing about the days on which I can manage to pray the entire thing: my heart and mind are at peace and very little disturbs me.

Things that would normally test my patience, upset or sadness me, things that would "ruin" my day don't even make a blip on my radar. That doesn't mean that I'm not aware of them. It simply means that the graces that come with praying the Rosary help me get through the negative. I feel more confident, more courageous, and happier overall. I feel our Blessed Mother's protection. I'm less prone to doing dumb things I'll later have to tell a priest in the confessional. I don't normally pray for personal intentions when I pray the Rosary -- I try to focus solely on the Mysteries -- but I have no doubt that I would receive what I asked if I did.

If I have any worries, they no longer seem to matter as much as they did the day or even hours earlier. If I'm feeling upset over anything, I'm able to look at any silver lining I can find in the situation. If I have fears or doubts, they are soothed and I'm able to think about things more clearly.

It all goes deeper than that, too, but I don't know how else to put it into words. I guess the closest I can get to describing it is in this way: my weary soul is refreshed and at peace and I feel close to both Mama Mary and to her beloved Son. Like I said, those words don't even adequately describe or even scratch the surface but it's as close as I can get without getting into what others have described as "syrupy sweet St. Therese mode."

Have any of you ever tried praying all of the Rosary mysteries (either the original 15 or all 20) in a single day? Do any of you pray the entire thing frequently? If so, do you sort of understand what I'm trying to say? It feels weird to be at a loss for words but that's where I am. In fact, I've frequently found myself in this state; unable to speak eloquently about the wonderful changes that have been going on in my interior life.

For this month of the Seven Sorrows of Mary -- and as an idea for those who are unsure of what they can do following the abuse scandals -- I propose you give it a try. Even if you only do it once this month, I lay this challenge down for whoever wants to do it. You will not regret it.

Anyway, I just wanted to get these thoughts down today because 1) it's the beginning of a month of Mary (and her birthday is coming up), 2) some people need more ideas on what to do for the Sackcloth and Ashes campaign, and 3) it's the 33rd anniversary of my baptism and I wanted to celebrate by blogging about this. Yes, I already went to confession to celebrate it but this part two of my celebration. ;)

Alright, that's it for now. I hope to blog again soon but it's all contingent on my workload. The fewer blog posts I write, the more work I have... and the closer I get to paying off my student loans. Oh yes, the war paint has been applied when it comes to paying them off. lol.

I hope y'all have been doing well... or, I should say, as well as you can be while feeling heartbroken,  hurt, and/or angry due to scandals that have hurt us Catholics in recent weeks. Keep praying, doing Acts of Reparation, and fasting.

As always, thank you for reading and God bless!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Surprise! I'm A New Contributing Writer For...

Gather 'round, everyone. It's story time! (side note: Yes, I promise this will all lead to me telling you where my new writing gig is along with the link to my first article for them.)

Once upon a time, in the not-so-magical land of Los Angeles, CA, lived a young woman named Melissa (nicknamed Emmy by all who knew her). From a young age, Emmy loved writing. She loved it so much, her best friend growing up gave her the gift of more notebooks and pens (which she quickly went through) for every birthday. This was her gift until the age of 18 when her best friend -- the person she knew from the age of 5 -- moved away.

As she grew up, Emmy wondered what career path to take. She dabbled in the arts of drawing, of acting, and of music. She changed her major several times before settling on Religious Studies. Why did she pick Religious Studies? Because her heart was on fire for the Lord. She wanted to teach others about the faith she'd fallen deeply in love with. A degree in Religious Studies would open up options for this -- either teaching or doing something else. Also, Creative Writing was a harder field to break into; less stable.

Anyway, she could still write. She had started a blog on Christmas Day 2007 and had kept it up for many years. Before she even graduated, she had been published in Envoy Magazine twice. When she graduated, she began freelance writing but it was grunt work. She was paid literal pennies per word. Sure, she also got a sweet contributing writing gig for H&R Block's (now defunct) Block Talk blog but once that gig ended, ghostwriting dried up, and she found herself low on options with a student loan debt to pay off.

She felt called to write... but the field was not so kind to her. Deflated and feeling defeated, she thought it was a sign to abandon her dream as a writer. She applied (and was accepted) to a program for a second Bachelor's degree to become a speech-language pathologist. She put all her efforts into it, leaving a writing career that barely paid.

For the next 3.5 years, she tried to finish both the second Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in  Biblical Theology. During this time, her health began to fail. The further she got into the second Bachelor's degree, the sicker she got. She took a break and tried a Master's in the topic that felt like home to her. A terrible accident and a decline in health following it forced her to take another break. With a mountain of student loans still looming -- as well as other familial financial responsibilities she chose to take on -- she decided to finish the second Bachelor's degree once more. She knew she had to be less gung-ho. She finished enough courses to get her license as an SLPA (speech assistant) but her heart was not in it and her savings were zilch (thus not allowing her to pay the $4-6k to get the  SLPA license).

She decided to give up on her own plans and let God completely take over. "Jesus, I trust in You. I will do what You want me to do" became her new motto. Facing the now crazy mountain of ($46+k) student loans (all of which she knew she could pay with an SLPA job; that's why she kept going), she stressed about how she would be able to pay it off. Providentially, for weeks before she gave up on the SLPA goal, St. Francis de Sales (patron saint of writers) kept popping into her life. She wondered if it meant she would be better of giving her writing career a second chance. It was when she decided to give up the SLPA goal that her lovely friend, Theresa, told her about an opportunity to write for a Catholic website Emmy often read. "What? Writing for EpicPew?! Sign me up!" Thus, Emmy's writing career was once again revived.

Now, she didn't actually get paid for a couple of weeks while she was on trial but she didn't care. She was writing once again! It was something she loved and something she felt guilty about letting go. Deep down, she always felt like it was what God might've been calling her to do but it was fear that kept her from pursuing it. Fear... and lack of trust. After stubbornly doing things her way, she let go and let Divine Providence take over. "Alright, God," she often said, "if you want me to do this, I will."

She loved writing for EpicPew. She let her inner Catholicism nerd run free. She also called on the Holy Spirit to enlighten her mind when she felt writer's block would keep from meeting her weekly deadline. Some articles her hits (and how!) and some were misses. It was all par for the course.

Then, one week, disaster struck. She couldn't think of anything to write! She had a looming deadline and nothing to write. Sure, she had back-up topics on reserve but they weren't what she normally wrote about. Still, she felt a tug to use one of them -- on Catholic pick-up lines -- to write that week. Trusting it was a nudge from the Holy Spirit and fresh out of new ideas, she went with it... and she quickly saw that she'd made the right decision.

The article blew up in a way no other previous article had! She was surprised -- most of her previous articles had a more serious tone to them. This article, which allowed her to explore her more fun side, was shared by Catholic publications she often read. She was humbled and in awe. "Okay, Holy Spirit! Thank you for that!" Still, a surprise lay ahead for her.

A few days after the article hit, she was offered a new writing gig as a contributing writer for a new Catholic dating website called CatholicChemistry. The pick-up lines article was just what the creator of the site was looking for. Would she be interested in writing for them? Sure!

She kept the news to herself (and a handful of friends). Then, on August 22nd, 2018, her first article with CatholicChemistry (5 Relationship Discernment Novenas) was published and she was finally able to share her news with the world!

What does this mean for the heroine of this story? Only God knows. All Emmy knows is that God continues to supply her with more writing work, making it clear that He wants her to continue down this writing path. There are, of course, more articles that have been and will be written for EpicPew, CatholicChemistry, Verily Magazine, and other places. She will share them on social media and on her blog. She will continue to write until God calls her to do something else. In the meantime, she hopes to help people grow a little more in their faith and/or vocation by what she writes...

This story has no end as it's still being written. Stay tuned... ;)