San Antonio| The Saga | San Fernando Cathedral 

It’s Downtown Tuesday in San Antonio today and I’m sharing one of my favorite downtown sights with y’all. On pretty much any weekend night and Tuesdays, in the Main Plaza of the San Fernando Cathedral, you’ll stumble upon a crowd gathered to view a video art installation on the Cathedral. There’s always amazing things to do in this city. San Antonio The Saga is a beautiful must for residents and tourists, and it’s free!

  

  

Created by artist Xavier de Richemont, you will see his interpretation of the history of San Antonio and Texas. This show has been projecting on the Cathedral front since 2014. It shows every Tuesday, and weekend nights. Runs almost half an hour long, with start times of: 9 PM, 9:30 PM, and 10 PM. Again, this is one of my San Antonio favorites, and anytime I’m downtown around the show times, I’m there. So if you’re downtown on one of these days go check it out! 

XOXO,

Sydney Charming 

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Taste Texas: Castroville: Haby’s Alsatian Bakery

A deliciously delightful Texas must stop, Alsatian bakery on the drive home. I’ve mention plenty of times before that I am from the city of San Antonio, but my Mom’s family’s hometown is D’Hanis, Texas. Located slightly southwest of San Antonio, a beautiful Texas country side drive down Highway 90. 

 Some thing else I may not have mention, I went to elementary school outside of the city, in the first charming small town going down 90, Castroville. St. Louis Catholic School, now we’re talkin’ real small town, schooling. When I attended, there was only about 100 kids in the entire school. So one class of about 15 to maybe 20 students for each grade level. Yep, I had the same classmates every year. Well, one of my favorite Texas bakeries, was just down the street and around the corner from my school. (Actually, everything in this town is basically down the street and around the corner.) 

    

Last week my Mom and I were driving through town and stopped by. We ended up sparking a petty good conversation with the friendly staff and customers. “The meat market down the street, Dzuiks, how do you pronounce the name?” Everyone pronounced it differently. “The ‘D’ is silent.” “No, the ‘Z’ is silent.” “I’ve always pronounced it with a ‘J’ sound.” I guess next time I’m passing through I’ll have to stop by for some deer jerky and ask the staff. 

 Haby’s Alsatian Bakery! Castroville is a French-Alsatian settled town. Founded by Henri Castro, in 1844. A lot of the original settlers from Alsace, influence is still visible today. Haby’s has an assortment of fresh baked pastries. So delicious, light, fluffy, and sweet. They also bake cakes for every occasion. Oh, the oatmeal raisin cookiesare my favorite! 

 

A Family Tradition: Quinceañera

I remember turning 14 and my mom asking me if I wanted to have a quinceanera. (These extravagant birthday parties take about a whole year in advance of planning.) “No thank you,” I replied. I was a really shy kid. A crowd of people watching me attempt a dance. Nope.

 One of my cousin’s recently had her Quinceanera in our family’s hometown of D’Hanis, Texas. Emily has grown into a beautiful lovely young lady. I remember there was quite a big scare when she was born. Her mother is my second cousin. (It’s weird cause she looks much like my mom but she’s family so that makes sense.) Anyway, my cousin Donna went into labor at just a mere 25 weeks of pregnancy. I remember Emily was so tiny. There was neonatal experts taking care of her.

 She made it through and now she’s 15 years old! I’m not really close with her but a birthday celebration is a huge milestone and it was amazing to see who she has become.

 She was surrounded by her parents, and school friends. She still seems kind of quiet and shy, just like I was.   Quinceaneras usually have a Mass at church, then a dinner followed by a waltz and then a dance for everyone to join in. While the finally set ups for the dinner were taking place we were entertained by some mariachis and a little dancing. I had to leave before the dance to get back up to Austin but again. I love getting celebrate and see how lovely of a little lady Emily has grown into. 

The Fear of Falling Apart

For the past few months I’ve been struggling with some health issues. Recently, I think a little depression has been added into the mix because of how overwhelming everything has been. I’m so thankful for my friend being there, every step of the way.

We’ve been through a lot of unfortunate events, in a very small amount of time together. I’m talking about Murphy’s Law in full overdrive effect. We’ve also had some little accomplishments, definitely worth celebrating. We don’t live in the same city, but we’re not too far from each other. Through all these struggles, my friend has managed to at least call me everyday. Sometimes to ask how I am doing, sometime to tell me what they are going through, and sometimes just to talk. Occasionally, one of us will make the drive, or will both meet somewhere in the middle. We’ve become best friends and each other’s other half, helping each other with anything and everything from work, friends and family, to should I take a nap? But how much is too much? When a promise is made, to what extent should the promise be upheld?
A traumatizing event made me latch on to my dear friend even more, because they promised they’d be there through everything. For a moment, they were gone and everything went wrong. Well I guess, nothing went as planned and I was alone. I couldn’t get the experience out of my mind. I wanted to recover, but every time I would talk to my friend, they just didn’t understand and it made me feel even more alone. I began to be consumed with bitterness and anger. I desperately wanted to be comforted by my friend, but every time I was around them or even spoke to them I was taken back to that hurt and pain and the fact that they weren’t physically there to help me. Even after a good day, talking to them, I felt watery eyed and heavy. As if I had an anchor pulling me down a bottomless ocean.
Scrolling through some old pictures, I came across a video clip of, This is Gospel by Panic at the Disco, from The Gospel Tour. (Yes, I went to that concert. Definitely a blast from the high school past but still loved it!) I looked up the lyrics:

This is gospel for the fallen ones
Locked away in permanent slumber
Assembling their philosophies
From pieces of broken memories

If you love me let me go
If you love me let me go
‘Cause these words are knives that often leave scars
The fear of falling apart
And truth be told, I never was yours
The fear, the fear of falling apart
Don’t try to sleep through the end of the world
And bury me alive
‘Cause I won’t give up without a fight

Reading that and listening to the song once again, I thought I need space. I thought I just need time away without communication from my friend, so that I can start to heal. It was like I was taking one step forward and two steps back. Just not going anywhere. I thought make a jump that will help me run out of that toxic dance.  Or back to my other analogy, let go of the anchor so I can float back up myself.
Crazy thing, a few days to clear my head, and I love how God unveils himself in front of me. I came across this article : 10 Things NOT to Say to Someone Fighting Depression . Now I’m not trying to harm myself or anyone. I just feel sad, even though there’s some pretty spectacular things happening around me. Some of the key things the author mentioned caught my attention.

 “Telling someone happiness is a choice just isn’t true. In fact, if we skip passed our pain and grief, we miss out on an opportunity for God to comfort us.”


“Stop putting the pressure on yourself for something only God can achieve. Depression is too big to battle alone. God will give us more than we can handle, but He’ll never ask us to handle it alone. Yes, you can start exercising and eating better and making new friends and all of these things might help for a moment, but they won’t heal the root problem. You need Jesus. He’s the only thing that sustains.”


Right there in that last part, I realized I was putting way to much pressure and expectations on just one person. I am so grateful for my friend even helping as much as they have. Now I realize, what I should have know all along, God is with me. I am not alone and have never been alone. The times I broke down in tears, the anger, the sadness, he’s been there. I just wasn’t listening. Something I’ve written about plenty of times, that God is always with us, His Spirit is in us, and completely lost sight of that. Yesterday’s mass readings, actually made my happily laugh a little (1 John 3:18- 24) : 

Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.
Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth
and reassure our hearts before him
in whatever our hearts condemn,
for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God
and receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us.


As if God, was like are you hearing me now! I am here with you, I will help you through this. And just for some extra reassurance listen to this Gospel reading next (John 15: 1- 8) :

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,


I hope that my friend can forgive me for expecting so much from them. I’m still getting better and I know one day this will just be another hill or mountain I’ve climbed. I know that I’m almost there and when I reach the top all the things that terrified me will just make the view so much more spectacular.

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Hey, where have you been Sydney?

I am about a month and a half behind on posting all the articles I’ve written for y’all be cause I’ve been stressing. My work contract ends today, March 26, 2015. Well, get ready for some delightfully delicious, faith and Texas inspiring reading because I just signed the offer to work directly with the company I’ve been contracted with for the last year.

Five years ago, if you asked where I’d be in five years or what’s my five year plan, I never in my wildest dreams thought I be right here. I would have told you “still in medical school, probably just starting residency.” Or Working with autistic children. Of course life doesn’t always happen the way you plan or want it to.

I left undergrad school, with a pretty decent GPA, and MCAT score and just a year left to finish. Starting to look into medical schools. Why did I leave? My family needed me. Faith, family, and food that’s me. My mom was going through a terrible divorce that lasted almost 4 years. I’ve written about her ex-husband, that horrid nightmare, here. My brother and sisters were about 12, 10, and the youngest 7 years old. I moved back home, helping with school pick-ups, drop offs, finances, parenting and still working at the golf course. Eventually shifting my goals to business banking and working my way up.

Summing up the last few years, my family was able to overcome our hardships and move forward. Now what to do, go back to school? I lost that desire for medical school. I guess move to a different city? My friend, Jack, directed me to a contracting job for a pretty big tech company. I was hesitant, told him, I don’t know anything about tech stuff but he assured me that I would do well because I understood the business aspect of companies from working in business banking.

Alright, said a prayer and took that leap of faith.

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So for the last year, I’ve pretty much been competing for my job with other contractors. Now this company is located in Austin, and so many people living in the city and working for this company embrace the “Keep Austin weird” culture and strive to be unique and different from anyone else.

Let’s face it, come on, come in close, group hug, they’re actually all the same. Shocking! I’ve met some really nice and interesting people. Then I met a just a ton of one uppers and realized how little patients I have some times. Jack, was right. I was able to succeed because of my business knowledge and hard work. I also stayed true to myself. Always keeping in mind to stay balanced with the exciting innovations and remembering the business needs.

Finding balance is what I was born to do. Seriously, my mom is Catholic and my dad is Buddhist. Obviously their marriage didn’t workout but growing up I learned a lot of traditions, had culture overload, strong Catholic faith and also learned to always take a step back. Look at the paths behind me, see the possible paths ahead of me, trust in God so that which ever step I take forward he’s right there with me leading me to where I should be.

How do you shine in a crowd of unique individuals lusting to outshine everyone else? Know yourself, hold on to the traditions and culture you’ve always known. Be open minded and acknowledging of different. Balance and you’ll surely emit an incandescent glow shining brighter than the rest.

No Man is an Island II

Back in September, I wrote a quick little blog for my Music Monday titled No Man Is An Island. I wrote about Tenth Avenue North’s song No Man Is An Island and how they sing about walking by faith with God who is a Trinity. That we are supposed to strive to mirror that and live as a community. When I wrote this I was writing about people in general. I love how things come together when you have faith. 

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In January I wrote, Austin Feeling a Little More Like Home, about struggling with moving to this weird city and then finding a community with the Young Catholic Leaders in Austin, now a Young Catholic Professionals  “candidate chapter.” After a few months, I’m enjoying seeing friendships foster and this community grow.
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The friendships are different, in that there is a deeper level of understanding and trust. You can make friends with anyone, play a sport together, grab a bite to eat, catch up over coffee or drinks, but knowing that the other person believes in the same faith as you is comforting and empowering. Empowering to grow as a community with our hearts ablaze to do more to share our faith. Now that doesn’t mean, we’re going to talk your ear off and ask you to join. Instead, we help and support each other to be more mindful of things we do in our work places, and personal lives, reminding each other that our actions should strive to be like a disciple of Christ and through our actions show and lead others to have the same faith.

So today I want to share that same song with y’all, No Man Is An Island by Tenth Avenue North. I am excited to see what we can accomplish as a community for the Austin area and our faith. Happy Monday!

“No man is an island, we can be found
no man is an island, let your guard down.
Please don’t try to fight me, I am for you
We’re not meant to live this life alone.
[…]
Through trouble, rain or fire
Lets reach out to something higher
Eyes open to one another
We are not alone

You can find out more about Young Catholic Leaders in Austin  through the Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/groups/1508251646056516?ref=bookmark

Let’s take it back to Something Beautiful 

It’s funny how we watch romance movies and say it’s just a movie that doesn’t happen in real life. We live in a time where mostly everything is simplified and convenient, especially our relationships. Nowadays relationships seem to start off with a hook-up and then maybe turn into friends-with-benefits. Oh that’s just the way things work out now right? Sex is nothing special, just a serge of hormones that need to be released. So a few text messages, or a swipe right is put in play and that’s it. Make some steam with someone while it’s convenient because it’s just human nature. Then we complain, put blame, yell, and sometimes experience depression when a romantic relationship doesn’t workout. Sometimes felling empty or like a piece of us is taken away. 

Truth is, part of us is being taken away. We need to take some steps back and put that part of our human nature back to something beautiful. The way is was meant to be. I understand not everyone shares the same faith or follow the bible. Shoot, I’m not perfect. But  I stumbled across this YouTube of John Mark Comer who is the author of Loveology. He talks about sex and marriage and why it is something that is meant to be so beautiful within marriage. So many of us have strayed away from this.
 
So Comer mentions, how the word “Echad” is used in the book of Genesis 2 from the Bible.

 “In sexuality two people become Echad, or it can be translated to one flesh. Echad is a graphic weighty word, that basically means when it’s put together with this word flesh, it means fused together at the deepest level...it is the bonding of two people into one entity. Body and soul, physical and spiritual. Cultural says hey it’s just play what’s the big deal? But God says whoa, no. It’s way more than that. It’s two people that become one entity, and then over and over enjoy and express love for one another through sexuality. Inside of marriage this is beautiful because it takes two people and doesn’t let them drift apart. It keeps them Echad or one. Outside of marriage this can be dehumanizing because it can turn people into objects for basically self gratification. Every time you walk away from a sexual partner it’s as if you are tearing Echad, as if part of you is lost, if you do that enough times then it starts to hollow you out.”

Wow! For me, that part of the Bible gives me clarification on why I am so hesitant to start a relationship. Especially a modern nonchalant relationship. I don’t want to jump into a sexual relationship and tear Echad or even worse, hollow myself out. I think people need to take things back to the something beautiful they were meant to be. I know a lot of people will say oh this is an out dated way of thinking. Ladies and gentlemen, no more complaining about how you regular booty-call isn’t working out into a relationship. We all have the power to take relationships and sexuality back to that higher meaning. Make it something beautiful.
I know it’s not Music Ministry Monday, but I found a prayer in the song Something Beautiful by NeedToBreathe. We can make those, breathe taking romances we see in movies our reality. We just have to be willing to take it back to something beautiful it was meant to be.

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, ’cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I’m in reach
‘Cause I am down on my knees, I’m waiting for something beautiful
Oh, something beautiful

Music Ministry Monday: Pray for those that hurt us

Today’s already January 19th! For me, it seems, everything has changed just as fast as time is passing this year. Of course, somethings don’t turn out the way we want them to. Some choice words were said to me, in avoidance of another subject. These words, man oh man, they sure like to linger in my thoughts. They suggest I compromise my morals. Every now and then, resurfacing, my sight blurring as emotional feelings start to take over, and the tears start building. I want to break, yell and scream, “what is wrong with you? I am a person, I have feelings, I am someone’s sister, someone’s daughter, someone’s granddaughter, someone’s cousin, someone’s relative! How about put one of your relatives in my shoes. My shoes that feel heavy from the weight of disrespect and disappointment.” Instead, I sigh, hold back on those water works and let out a prayer.

This prayer is not for me, it starts for the person that said those words, then grows to everyone that intentionally inflict a negative emotion or mannerism to another person. First, for forgiveness, then for peace to their hearts. Fitting, that today we, honor and remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On my drive to work this morning, I heard an excerpt of a speech he gave on why not to be violent. He said

“pray for your enemies, pray for those that hurt you […] rather a scarred body than a scarred soul.”

Other quotes I’ve seen today,

“the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,” and “let no man pull you low enough to hate him,” and “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Unfortunately, in my disappointment and heat of the moment I did utter the word hate. So I apologize and pray for my own peace.

Going into my third week of the K-Love 30 day challenge, “Broken Together” by Casting Crowns, is a somber song with an insightful message of truth. It’s lyrics unfold a story of understanding your own and another’s brokenness and then moving forward with faith.

Also, “Words,” by Hawk Nelson reiterates that message to speak with the love and grace of God.

“Words can build you up words can break you down. Start a fire in your heart or put it out. Let my words be life let my words be truth. I don’t wanna say a word unless it points the world back to You.”

I joke with my friends, and call it “Regina George” syndrome. Yep, “Regina George,” from the movie “Mean Girls.” It’s a terrible thing, that I really don’t understands , how cruel and unpleasant some people can be. While people like, In this older article I wrote , and some these random ones I found online,

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taunt others, I pray for them. Whatever has them so broken or hurt, whether intentionally or medically the can’t help it, I sincerely pray they find peace. And I ask everyone reading to join me in this not so typical prayer.

I strive to be as much of a disciple of Christ, as possible, but I am not perfect. I have flaws, and sins, I am human. When those emotions and words start to cloudy my thought, I throw my hands up to God. As a Catholic, a Christian, a follower of Christ, we are supposed to live, not by feelings but, by faith.

 “The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace. Psalm 29:11

Music Ministry Monday: “Something Beautiful”

Good Day y’all! It’s Monday and the weather isn’t so great outside. My pup and I definitely didn’t want to get out of bed, but you know the world continues on. image

Last week I started the K-Love 30 day challenge, listening to Christian music for 30 days straight. It’s actually a challenge I take every year. I find it just a great way to start my new year off with positive thoughts and God in my heart. So far one of my favorite songs is “Something Beautiful,” by Steven Curtis Chapmam.

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In the song, Chapman, tells a story of something most people experience in life. A story of having a plan that doesn’t always turn out how you want it to. Through a catchy lyrics he explains we need to trust in God,

“so put it all in the hands of the Father. Give it up, give it all over to the only one who can turn it into something beautiful, something really beautiful”

This weekend I had an opportunity to attend St. Ignatius’s Young Professionals retreat. It was short, just Saturday afternoon, but time well spent. The Deacon had us read a few different verses and then had create a Spirituality Timeline. Asking us to think back and write our story, events, relationships, moments, challenged, sadness, happiness that define us. Ultimately, answering, if you were God, how would you see yourself or describe yourself?

Our small group discussion really opened my eyes to the fact that pretty much everyone feels lost sometimes, but eventually when you look back even as crazy aimages things may have been or may still be, it is something beautiful God already planned for us. Of course,

“For I know the thoughts that I think over you, says the Lord: thoughts of peace and not of affliction, so that I may give you patience and an end,” Jeremiah 29:11