Wednesday’s Inspiration (posted on Thursday)

Yesterday was a jammed packed day, so I didn’t get a chance to post Wednesday’s Inspiration. My apologizes, but here it is today.

The other day I read some very inspiring work by Flannery O’Connor. She is considered one of America’s greatest fiction writers and one of the strongest apologists for the Roman Catholic Church in the twentieth century. She was born in 1925 and “was a devout believer whose small but impressive body of fiction presents the soul’s struggle with what she called the stinking mad shadow of Jesus.” The quote that touched my heart was, “All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.” I pondered her words for a long time in silence. What does that really mean I thought?

Imagine a father teaching his young daughter to ride a bike for the first time. The child is probably four or five and eagerly awaiting the opportunity to be just like the other kids on the street. Her father, no doubt is equally excited for his daughter to take this next step in her development. But he must teach her to ride a bike with training wheels first because of her size. What if he brought home a woman’s Trek mountain bike and told her to get on it. It would be impossible for her to balance the size of the mountain bike and once he let go the bike would immediately fall and the little girl would badly hurt herself.

But a loving and gentle father wouldn’t do that, he would bring home a bike that is just her size. Our Heavenly Father is even more compassionate than the most earthly father you can imagine. God doesn’t give us difficulties that are too much for us to handle. Every cross He gives us is lovingly prepared by Him, for us. He knows our hearts, our fears, our capacity for suffering and the grace we need to combat the suffering. But often, as Flannery O’Connor’s quote suggests we don’t except the grace that God offers us because of our human sinfulness. And just as the earthy father in the story wouldn’t put his four-year old daughter on a woman’s mountain bike, our Heavenly Father can’t give us the next portion of grace so to speak if we didn’t respond to the first. But, He will always be there when we are ready to respond.

Change is painful, and I bet everyone knows that. Just think of something you have accomplished in life, did you get there without pain and sacrifice? I doubt it.

Blessed Mother Teresa once said that “suffering is nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that He has come so close to you that He can kiss you.” Mother’s quote made me think of something I read in In Conversation with God a few weeks ago. “A holy soul once experienced difficult trials. One calamity after another befell her, and each succeeding disaster seemed worse than the one before. Finally, that soul turned affectionately to our Lord and asked, But Lord, what have I done to you? And in the depths of her heart came the reply, You have loved me. She thought of Calvary and understood a little better how our Lord wanted to purify her and draw her close to the salvation of many who were lost, far from God. She was then filled with peace and joy.”

Let us all pray for the grace this day to respond to the grace that our Heavenly Father gives us, so we can glorify His name with our lives . So we can embrace the pain that comes with change, so we can be His saints.

To have the Cross is to have joy: it is to have You Lord! – Saint Josemaria Escriva

Weekend lovin’…better late than never (part 2)

A few weeks ago my roommate Dr. Marlo Carlo finished one of her most intense rotations at the hospital – the ICU. Mariu is one of the coolest people you will ever meet. She loves Jesus with all of her heart, can throw a football better than most boys, along with leading her football team to victory by winning MVP, can work thirty plus hours at a time at the hospital taking care of patients and she never complains. To celebrate Mariu’s completion of her ICU rotation we grilled out back and shared good times with friends.

As we were getting ready to grill, Little Flower (Therese) came home from getting her hair cut. She also got feathers put in. I had never heard of “feathers” before Little Flower told us about them. She really wanted them, so she was excited to show us.

Here they are up close and personal.

Oh, Little Flower I love you.

Getting the kabobs ready.

Before you start make sure to soak the skewers in water for about a half an hour to prevent them from scorching or burning on the grill.

Kabobs are really easy to make and delicious to eat. First wash the vegetables you are going to use, cut them into generous size pieces and stick them on the skewers. Done and done, so easy! You can put meat or seafood on there too. We used red meat, but you can use chicken, shrimp, etc.

Mariu helping to make her own celebratory dinner. That wasn’t very nice of us to make her work…

Ready for the grill!

Kate came over to celebrate Mariu! Enjoying a delicious drink that Little Flower made her.

It’s grillin’ time!

I LOVE asparagus! And it is so easy to just throw on the grill. l lightly coat it with a little extra virgin olive oil prior to grilling and season with a little pepper and salt after grilling.

Ready to eat!

Beautiful beautiful friends – Mariu, Tala and Kate.


Best friends – so cute and beautiful!

Kathleen came home from Martha’s Vineyard and brought us a house gift.

Which they made me open. I don’t like opening gifts when everyone is watching, which is why they made me do it. And I’m not really sure what Therese is laughing at. :)

Kate and I – love you Kate.

After dinner some boys showed up on our front porch for some brownies, ice cream and live music. Mariu taught Tala to play the violin, but the even more remarkable fact is that Mariu taught herself.

I love that shot of Mariu.

Ladies and gentlemen please welcome Mat Kearney’s twin – Matt Faley!

It was a fun night to celebrate Mariu’s accomplishments! She’s a doctor guys! And I think that’s amazing! After dinner we ate peanut butter swirl brownies topped with vanilla bean ice cream. And amidst chilled beers and after dinner drinks Matt and Mariu played into the wee hours of the morning and we sang songs, laughed and shared life together. It was chill; I love evenings like that. Congratulations again to sweet little Mariu. Until next time, keep living, laughing and loving. Love those that are closest to your hearts and those that need to feel love, the genuine love that comes from a tight hug, a warm smile, a gentle touch, a reassuring word and most importantly the love that Christ has placed in your heart. Give that to others, show them His beauty through you!

Weekend lovin’…better late than never

Lately I have been busy busy busy with Made in His Image. I am currently working on a business plan, they are time consuming, but I love every second of it. I am writing some curriculum which I am super excited about. And my logo should be ready within a few weeks, whenever I think about it I literally get the chills, that’s how excited I am. It’s really happening! Thank you Jesus for His blessings!

I haven’t had a chance to blog about some fun weekend times, so that’s what I’d like to do today. I want to share a little piece of my life and heart with you. Tell you all about what makes me smile and laugh.

My roommate Tala reads blogs all the time and a lot of them are written by mothers. She shares the blogs with the house, and I have to admit I am hooked on a few of them myself. I often wonder how mothers get the time to update their blogs. And right now I feel like a slacker compared to them, but oh well – props to them. So with Nutella spread generously on two thick slices of rustic farm bread I want to share some good times with you.

About two weeks ago ( I told you I feel like a slacker) my sister Clare and one of my closest friends Elizabeth came to Nashville for a mere 16 hours on their drive from New York City to Texas. Elizabeth and I use to live together when we both served as missionaries. I hadn’t seen her in a year and it was glorious to be reunited. And Clare, as you might know, is literally my other half so I was exceedingly excited to see her.

A lot of people think Clare and I look like twins. Our piano teacher, Irish Step Dancing teacher, cross country and swimming coaches, professors and even our aunts and uncles (I mean come on family) have confused us. Personally, I think I’m getting the better end of the deal because people compare me to Clare and she is phenomenal.

Funny story – so Clare and I went to the same college. One time a professor saw me on the green and came over and said to me, Clare, you did a great job on that test, good job. I had never seen this professor before in my life and said, Oh, you must mean my sister Clare. Okay, back to the topic at hand, sometimes I get a little carried away.

So, Clare and Elizabeth arrived Thursday night. I grilled scallops because they are Clare’s favorite. Elizabeth brought wine, we grilled some vegetables, and made some bread and enjoyed each other’s company. I missed them both so much. For dessert, I had made a flour-less chocolate cake because Clare has a gluten intolerance and we were celebrating her birthday. We stayed up late and talked, laughed and shared some great memories.

They were only in town for the night because they were making their way to Texas. I had to open at the bakery on Friday, so they came to see me before they hit the road again for some cappuccinos, chocolate croissants and gluten free strawberry banana muffins. Elizabeth is starting a new job in Texas and I am so proud of her. It was pure joy to see them both.

Flour-less chocolate cake

Stay tuned for another weekend lovin’ better late than never story tomorrow!

Happy Anniversary James and Susan!

One year ago today my brother James married his best friend – Susan! Their wedding was in San Diego, CA. It was a beautiful day and they were surrounded by family and friends as they pledged their love to each other before God for the rest of their lives. These pictures are in memory of their special day. They are credited to Robert Wagner Photography. Check out his work – he is an amazing photographer.

Happy anniversary to James & Suzy! I love you both so very much!! Thank you for being such a marvelous witness to me!


Kate Winslet, Rachel Weisz Form “Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League”

Several weeks ago as I flipped through a local magazine, I came across a page that said, “Beautiful Positive You – Call today to schedule your appointment at Vanderbilt Center for Cosmetic Plastic Surgery.” Oh my goodness gracious! That couldn’t be further from the truth, I thought to myself.

I thought of a beautiful quote from Karen Doyle who wrote a little book brimming with quotes about the feminine genius. She opens the Genius of Womanhood by saying,  Our culture today is suffering from a deep crisis caused by confusion over the true meaning of femininity and womanhood. A sea of conflicting images and expectations has meant that this confusion not only affects women individually but goes right to the heart of society, affecting men and children in a profound way. 

Her expression of Truth couldn’t be more exquisite. What women today need is education about their dignity as God’s daughter. God is a God of order, nothing is just here, He created us out of His masterful order. As His sons and daughters we possess His dignity for we are created in His image and likeness.

I love the ocean, it’s one of my favorite places to be. There is something about the vastness that leaves me breathless. If I’m not in the water riding the waves, I love to just sit in the sand and watch the waves break and see the white foam that forms after they crash, it’s magnificent. Each wave is orchestrated to be a certain size and break at a given time, similar to the way in which God designed us. Each one of us is unique and comparing yourself to others is not healthy. You are you, and what our society needs is to embrace this fact.

Plastic surgery is like saying, sorry God, but you didn’t make me good enough. I think I should help you out there and make a few changes. Satan throws lies at our insecurities all the time saying we aren’t “good enough.” But confidence in God can and will combat those lies. In order to do that, you need to be firmly rooted in who you are.

Someone once told me they wanted me to get plastic surgery. It devastated me. Thoughts and feeling raced through my mind such as, Does this mean I’m not beautiful? Why do they want to change my body? I must be pretty ugly huh, because if I was really beautiful they wouldn’t have said that. 

I never even considered doing it, but I still felt gross. And at first their words deeply wounded my sensitive heart. But through it I learned about who I am as God’s daughter. It was a long journey and I am still learning. But let me tell you nothing compares to the beauty, the confidence, the Truth and the joy of knowing that you are created with a purpose, created by a loving Father, and that you are beautiful because you have His hand print on your soul.

I don’t need a man to tell me I’m good enough, or that I’m beautiful. Sure it’s nice to hear that you are beautiful, but true confidence is believing it in your heart. You need to get comfortable in who God created you to be, before you would even believe what a man told you anyway.

Today I can look in the mirror and say that I’m beautiful because I’m created in the image and likeness of God. No one could make me change my body and if someone were to mention it I wouldn’t flinch, because I know who I am.

I am a daughter of God and I’m beautiful, because He created me. God doesn’t created ugly; it would be against His very nature. He can only create beautiful and that’s what I am.

That’s what you are.

Yesterday I saw this article. Check it out! I think it’s very positive for women to see that there are actress that promote natural beauty.

Kate Winslet, Rachel Weisz Form “Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League” by US Magazine


Natural woman!

Embracing her curves is nothing new to Kate Winslet, but now the actress is taking an active stand against the pressure in Hollywood for women to undergo cosmetic surgery.

The 35-year-old actress told London’s The Telegraph that she and fellow British Oscar-winners Emma Thompson and Rachel Weisz have formed what she describes as the “British Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League.”

“I will never give in,” she said. “It goes against my morals, the way that my parents brought me up and what I consider to be natural beauty.”

While the women’s resolve not to go under the knife is real, their league might be more of a way to speak out against ageism than an active organization.

While the women’s resolve not to go under the knife is real, their league might be more of a way to speak out against ageism than an active organization.

“I am an actress, I don’t want to freeze the expression of my face,” Winslet said.

Thompson, 52, agreed. “I’m not fiddling about with myself,” she exclaimed. “We’re in this awful youth-driven thing now where everybody needs to look 30 at 60.”

Let’s all have a little faith in Tebow

I have always admired Tim Tebow’s love for the Lord. When I was a missionary with Varsity Catholic I use to think it would be amazing if he converted to the Catholic faith and became a missionary with FOCUS. I would pray for it all the time.

This morning I read this article from FOX Sports about him. It is well worth the read and I think it’s very encouraging to see stellar athletes praise God for their talent. The world needs more role models like Tebow for athletes. Enjoy the read and BE BOLD for Christ. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” – Matthew 10:32-33

Let’s all have a little faith in Tebow
by Jen Floyd Engel
FOX Sports
August 12, 2011

Tim Tebow’s opening drive Thursday dripped with every criticism ever hurled in his vicinity.

Quick to run. Slow to set up, read, release. Lacking accuracy.

And because this was Tim Tebow rather than, say, Brady Quinn, we heard an “amen” from an angry congregation of sports fans reveling in his fail. If Schadenfreude needs a corporate sponsor, call Twitter. Fans and journalists alike unloaded on the Broncos quarterback and his faith 140 characters at a time early and often during Thursday’s preseason festivities.

Tebow in game. Let’s see if he can cure leprosy.

God has decided to wait until regular season to start assisting Tebow.

God flipping over from GOP debate to watch Tebow.

All were in stark contrast to Tebow’s “Joshua 1:9” pregame tweet that loosely translates to “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” depending on your Bible of choice.

I am not a preacher. And this is not a sermon.

My message actually is just a question: Why? What about Tebow brings out such meanness in us?

Because this seems strangely personal, like some folks want him to fail, just to be able to ask, “Where’s your Messiah now?” — also seen on Twitter on Thursday. I have seen columns already calling him a failure, predicting his imminent demise, detailing why he fails, ripping his practice, his preparation, telling missionaries to save a seat for him because he’ll be joining them soon, questioning if maybe God wants him to be a backup. His Christianity and his performance linked together, both used as punch lines.

After the game, I asked him why he thought criticism of him was so fierce, so wildly personal, so often faith-based.

“Well gosh, I’m not sure. It’s hard to say,” Tebow said. “My faith has been a big part of my life and it’s something that I feel like I show, but I don’t feel like I am ever too outward about it as far as putting other people down or preaching.”

“Preachy” seems to be a favorite criticism, anyway. Overhyped, overexposed, preachy and not really good all get mentioned. I witnessed none of that Thursday. Admittedly, the sample size was small, but the sincerity of the kid almost knocked me over. He’s a Heisman Trophy winner, a two-time national champion and a good kid.

So we kill him. And by “we,” I really mean y’all.

Full disclosure: I like this kid for all the reasons many seem to despise him. I like how he wears his faith proudly. I like how he seems to practice what he preaches. I like how he believes in himself despite waves of doubt coming from all corners. I like how he delivers punishing hits. I like what he stands for. I like his heart. And I am not so convinced Merril Hoge is right in giggly dismissing his chances of being an NFL quarterback. I believe Tebow may just turn into a quarterback despite his flaws. I have this thing about not betting against winners.

Or at least I am unwilling to rip him for believing he can.

If the worst thing that can be said about a kid is he believes he’ll be an NFL quarterback because he believes in God, he’s doing all right. He’s not saying God has guaranteed him a starting job, rather that his faith in himself comes from his belief in God. I read once where Pastor Rick Warren said, “God wants to turn your test into a testimony; your mess into a message.” Tebow recognizes failure can be a testimony as well, depending how one wears it.

And let’s dispense with this idea that somehow Tebow already has established himself as a failure and does not belong in a Broncos QB discussion that includes Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn. All three look better equipped to step into a J Crew ad than John Elway’s shoes.

This is not simply about Tebow’s play, this is personal.

And even if he ends up being the worst quarterback in the history of quarterbacks, why are we OK with turning his Christianity into a punch line? If Tebow were a devout Muslim, would we snark about tenets of his religion? Or if he were Jewish? Or Buddhist? Or atheist? Or Espicopalian?

Maybe, but those cracks would be flagged by the PC crowd almost immediately. Christianity is fair game.

In a league fraught with all kinds — sinners and saints, good guys and great talent, dog killers, vehicular manslaughterers, adulterers and a whole bunch of other “–ers” we have chosen to ignore — we hate him.

All I can figure is we just want our athletes to say sound bites about “giving all the glory to God” and leave it at that. We do not want to hear about them actually living this, and we snark on them if they do.

But I am preaching now. And this is not a sermon.

This is about a young quarterback who, after a shaky first drive, finished 6 for 7 for 91 yards and generally acquitted himself decently, who believes he’ll be a starting NFL quarterback one day and who puts his faith in God.

So, by all means, go ahead and hate him. Just ask yourself why.

Because hating him seems to say more about the congregation than the Evangelical quarterback.

Wednesday’s Inspiration

Although I write about many topics on my blog, the main reason I started it is to promote my ministry that I’m planning to start called Made in His Image. If this is your first time visiting my blog, welcome! Here is what Made in His Image will be all about. Made in His Image will work to help girls and women alike who have been abused, raped, suffered from mental illnesses, eating disorders, the effects of addictions and low self-esteem. Made in His Image will educate women on God the Father’s unwavering love, mercy and healing Hands. It will teach women about the dignity we all possess as His daughters, being created in the image and likeness of God.

This weeks Wednesday’s Inspiration is for women struggling with an eating disorder. First of all, know how precious you are in God the Father’s eyes. For you are closest to Him in your struggles, place your heart in His tender and gentle Hands. Secondly, know that I pray for you daily. You can always email me with specific requests as well. I have felt your pain in a unique way and my heart goes out to you. Here is a prayer that I wrote when I was really struggling many years ago and I thought you might like it.

Dear Father in Heaven,
I desire to be free from these shackles which bind me so tightly. 
Stay with me. 
I’m scared. I’m scared of exposing my sin. I’m scared of what others may think. Im scared of gaining weight. I’m scared of feeling full and gross. I’m scared of being alone. 
Stay with me. 
When I think of how others have hurt me, sometimes it suffocates me. The pain is everywhere. 
Stay with me.
Take my tears. Take my fear. Take my heart.
Stay with me. 
Hold my hand through the pain, through each meal and through each step of my recovery. 
Stay with me. 
I have sinned and hurt you deeply. Increase in my heart a Godly sorrow.
Stay with me. 
You see beauty in me. Let me see it to Father. 
Stay with me. 
I can’t do it without You. I ask for Your grace.
Stay with me. 
Let me feel Your loving embrace. 
(and insert your name). 
text copyright c 2011, Maura Byrne