Hope: It’s good for the soul.

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.” – Samwise Gamgee, LOTR

Small self-disclosure – I LOVE Lord of the Rings! My favorite of the trilogy is Return of the King. There’s something encouraging and inspiring about Middle Earth hitting rock bottom and struggle bussin’, but in the end rising back to LIFE! (Sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t seen the movie…)

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H O P E. It’s all about taking hope that the trials and tribulations you are experiencing will pass! The darkness in Return of the King was real and had control over many people and many things. Evil orcs and other vile creatures sent to destroy them outnumbered the people of Middle Earth. It seemed as though everywhere goodness turned, the enemy, Sauron, was right there trying to destroy it. Virtue ceased to exist and life was nothing but a dark shadow. Seems pretty bleak and the OPPOSITE of hopeful right?

Cultivating a Spiritual Life

Pastoral Counseling at Franciscan University of SteubenvilleA requirement of my pastoral counseling class was to commit to a spiritual exercise during the semester in order to grow in our faith lives, as this is the foundation for all we do in pastoral counseling. At the beginning of the semester I was excited to be able to do this assignment. I wanted to commit to a Holy Hour every week, and hopefully add a couple more Holy Hours when I was able. Like most things that I try to incorporate into my life, this lasted for a couple of weeks; things went well for a while. But then, as usual, I got too busy and didn’t meet any of my goals.

I now have to write a paper about a commitment that, to be honest, I didn’t fulfill by my own standards. For the record, I did the assignment (I know my professor will be reading this blog, so I need to make sure I don’t dig myself into a hole). I completed two or three recommended tasks that I could write about. But since I didn’t fulfill my original goal, I feel like I cheated myself.

I have come to realize this is a consistent pattern in our lives. We set goals, but then get so caught up in life that we are unable to meet them. Afterwards, we feel discouraged because we failed. This is especially true when it comes to developing our relationship with God on this campus. It’s easy to compare ourselves to what we see others doing.

Self Care: What I Learned From My Fever

This semester has been quite possibly the craziest time of my life. This past summer was one that led to a schoolwork burnout. Working seven days a week to get all of the required internship hours and then enduring four-hour night classes after long day ran my energy and focus out. I had two weeks after the summer of fun to return home to my family in Florida until the fall semester.

Two days before I was leaving for summer “break” my car died and I received a call from my dad. My dad informed me that he had just gotten back for the doctor and that he had cancer. I immediately stopped dead in my tracks. My dad has cancer. This started the longest three weeks of my life. I went home and was welcomed by my family all with brave faces on. No one knew what was happening, all we knew is that we needed our faith more than ever. While I was home, I also helped my sister pack up and move into her freshman dorm room hours away from our house.

Leaving home was heart wrenching. My dad drove my to the airport and I held back tears as I boarded the plane to come back to Steubenville. My parents were now empty nesters and my dad’s surgery to remove the cancer was less than a week away. In this surgery, the doctors were going to find out how bad his cancer was and what the next steps were.