Reverb and Dave Matthews Band Bama Green Project

Have you read Laudato Si’’ ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME by Pope Francis? Applause if you have and completed it. I’m only at section 64 of 240 sections. Obviously I can’t speak too in depth about it. So far I under stand we should be more aware of our environment and help to care for it.

We must be grateful for the praiseworthy efforts being made by scientists and engineers dedicated to finding solutions to man-made problems. But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.

Yes! I love volunteering! I found a pretty cool organization called Reverb, that I recently volunteered for. They are definitely making some moves to change the impact music tours have on our environment. Austin is know for live music and amazing concerts. So Reverb coming through helps with band tours help our community greatly.

REVERB is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2004 by environmentalist Lauren Sullivan and her musician husband, Adam Gardner of Guster. REVERB creates and executes comprehensive, custom programs to green the tour itself while engaging concertgoers to take action for the environment.

Pretty cool huh? I had the opportunity to volunteer with them for the Bama Green Project for the Dave Matthews Band 2 sets tour, at the 360 Amphitheater Circuit of the Americas. Some of the things they do consist of setting up Eco Villages, encouraging recycling, providing bands with aluminum reusable water bottles to refill, switching the tour busses to biodiesel, just to name a few. But so much work and planning goes into these tours. The volunteer coordinator explained to us that our volunteer t-shirts and the merchandise were designed about a year in advance. Organic merchandise, shirts made out of recycled materials.

Johnson’s Backyard Garden was the local organic farm they partnered with. As a volunteer, I helped sell these awesome water bottles, made from recycled materials, before the concert started. The money that was raised selling the water bottles was donated to Johnson’s Backyard Garden. Then the monetary value of organic produce from JBG was donated to the Austin Food Bank. So much done for the local community!  Oh, and by volunteering, I got general admission into the concert. I highly recommend volunteering with them when they come through your town.

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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. 

Fear of Falling Apart II: Living with PMDD

It’s absolutely life crippling! The overwhelming rush of anxiety, the excruciating pain that brings you to tears and the depressing thoughts that consume you. As soon as it starts I wish it would stop. Heck, I wish it would never even start. 

Today, I’m trying second by second to pass the time. I started trying to organize my clothes, so that I can take some for donations to flood victims. Here I am, two hours later with barely any progress. I have to keep stopping because the cramps back pain fell like someone is stabbing me with red hot iron rod trying to brand me. Lay down, stretch, cry, get up move a few pieces of clothes, feel a surge of pain, feel like passing out, fight tears, sit down, lay my head in my knees, fight more tears, hug my legs so that I’m in a fetal position, give up, lay down cry and repeat.

So what is PMDD? Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Say what? Premenstrual? Isn’t that PMS? The answer is yes, but it’s much more severe. The cramps and back pain, the emotional and behavioral symptoms are intensified.

Relationships with friends, family and loved one are often damaged. My family has learned to be understanding and supportive. They help me by asking about my diet, giving friendly reminders to consume plenty of calcium and vitamins. I’ve lashed out a few time or broken down in tears with them. They’ve prayed with me and help through it.

Ugh relationships! I know I sure have jumped the gun on scaring some away. The anxiety creeps in and takes over. I wanted nothing more than to be hugged and comforted through this time. Usually it comes across as me being needy, because I’m not ready to reveal what I’m actually going through. “Oh hey, btw, I have PMDD it’s like PMS but a million times worse. Now hug me and don’t let go until it’s over but watch what you say to me please.” Even my best friend now still gets frustrated because I bottle up a lot of what I’m feeling and thinking and lash out little things I normally wouldn’t mind.

I don’t like that I have to go through this every month. I especially don’t want to burden anyone else. It’s 10 days! 10 days that will eventually pass. I forget how intense it can be until the next month rolls around and I am back on the floor uncontrollably cry because of the pain and emotional waves I’m feeling. It seem to have amplified with some of the recent stresses I’ve felt. My best friend helped me discover I’m very expressive with my thoughts, in my writing about things, I wouldn’t otherwise say out loud. We’ve worked on some of my communicating what I’m feeling through writing. Making writing therapeutic and sometimes a way for getting that turmoil out. It has helped us both. As you can now understand some of my more personal articles have been working through these things and more like letters. My friend has often read my writings and told me they had no idea that’s what was going on in my head.

I captured this picture of myself trying to fight the awful thoughts going through my head and the physical pain I am feeling. No filtering, this is me at, what I think is my worst reflection of myself. I have been cry all day. Thoughts normally that would never cross my mind anxiously build up. “I am home alone. My dog is my only friend. I’m hurting so much right now and what if I pass out and nobody knows. Where is my friend. Why isn’t he here. Am I doing something wrong? I haven’t let him get to know me because I keep so much thoughts hidden inside. When will this pass? What if he doesn’t like who he thinks am I. I feel like I’m about to pass out. What if he doesn’t really know me. Is this a panic attack? I need to tell him all this stuff now. Understand that this passes and I will be back to my sarcastic busy self soon. Busy self, I have so much I have to do. Am I too busy? Am I not giving enough attention to all the people I care about? I can’t move. My back hurts so bad. I need to sit down.” All this within seconds, on repeat in my head. Whatever hormones I get an excise of during this time, that makes me feel like there’s an emotional and physical storm happening to me, I strongly dislike you!

It’s been so hard living away from all my loved ones. Writing, taking hikes, and working on recipes help when I can pull myself together. There are days were just turning in bed feel too much to bare. Sometimes I wish to be able to move back and be around all of my family and close friends. Then, like right now, something happens that helps me be at ease. Scrolling down Facebook someone posted Psalm 55:22.

“Cast your cares on the Lord & He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.”

I know I’m not alone and God is here with me. This is temporary and I will get through it. Until then I have to remember to redirect my thoughts to prayers and just talking with God. I pray for all the ladies, and their loved one, out there going through the same thing. Have patience and peace you’ll get through it. I pray for anyone that has long term anxiety, depression or chronic pain. I know that is a different monster to battle than what I face. Just breathe and even though I may not personally know you, know that I understand a little of what you’re going through and I’m praying for you.

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: Speak Love

How do you speak? What words do you say the most to express yourself? Take a moment and reflect on a typical conversation you may have had with a friend, a family member, co-worker, or even someone in passing. How do their words make you feel about their personality? Ever stop and think how your own words convey yourself to others?

I know my communication style with work is a director, but at the same time, y’all will never hear a curse from my lips. Okay, I know “never say never.” Sometimes, it’s shocking to my friends but then they think back on our conversations and realize the worse words I say extend to “crap” and “hell.”

In the song “The Proof of Your Love,” by For King & Country, they sing of showing, speaking, acting so that every things you do conveys the proof of your love for God.

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7, The Message)”

 

 

Also, JJ Weeks Band sings the same message in Let Them See You.

“Let them see you in me Let them hear you when I speak. Let them see you let them see you in me.”

 

 

Some people find it attractive to hear curse words. They think, now there’s a person that’s confident. Nowadays, it’s become just a normal part of mostly everyone’s vocabulary. I think it’s taken a lot of courage and confidence for me to choose to speak love.

I can not write or speak about my faith without also showing it in everything I do. If I were to speak with curse words, it would discredit my messages of faith and love. I don’t think anyone would see the love and grace of a God I want to convey. So speak love, so that the grace of God shows in everything you do.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Ephesians 4:29

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