Wednesday, September 30

Love Song Without Words - A Meditation on Saint Augustine

I must confess, I've been hard at work on a NEW MUSIC WEBSITE for the past week, hence the trip down memory lane with old writings. But at the same time, I love revisiting old beloved favorites. Here is a beautiful little essay I wrote for an Early Christian Life and Thought class. The assignment? Pick any writing by St. Augustine and analyze. Being that I am a hard-core fan of the Holy Spirit, I chose a small piece that St. Augustine wrote regarding singing in prayer tongues. For any of you readers not familiar with speaking/praying/singing in tongues (one of the MOST AWESOME gifts the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon us), PLEASE feel free to contact me for more information. I'd love to share with you about my experiences and tell you more about His most wonderful gifts. 

This will also be published as a series. I hope by the end of this to have BIG NEWS regarding my music site. Enjoy and please keep me in your prayers!

This is no ordinary love song. Singing in tongues presents a beautiful, language-less love song to the Savior, one that is deeply personal, intimate, unique. It is fitting of Him to whom all praise is due.

Here in the deep recesses of the heart the love song without words is composed. St. Augustine refers to such a song as Jubilation -- Jubilatio. This song of pure, unadulterated praise is that worship most worthy of the King of the Universe, for it is a song for His ears alone. In his discourses on Psalms 32 and 134-135, Augustine reflects on the concept of praise, what it is, and how it ought to be in order to be worthy of God.

 “What reason am I to give you for praising him?” asks Augustine.  The answer is taken from Psalms 135:3: Because He is good. I am to praise God simply because He is Goodness itself. He is goodness self-contained in Himself, needing nothing to perfect Himself or to add to His happiness. He is goodness in His essence, in His being.

As such, He is worthy of all praise, all adoration, and all worship. In His goodness, He chose to create being, create man. What God is in His essence, He imparts a small portion to each person. By grace, He allows humanity to share in His divine goodness by participation. This of itself is a tremendous mercy.

Therefore, I ought to praise Him. I ought to and in fact must praise Him. But how can I, lowly creature that I am, dare approach the throne of the Ancient of Days, hoping to bring something of value to offer Him? I am so radically insufficient, and my praise so hopelessly inadequate of capturing the totality, the majesty, the awesomeness of God.

Yet I still praise, almost uncontrollably. I am so low that I cannot ever hope of myself to rise to His level of praise. But in His great mercy, He descends to those who cannot hope to elevate alone to Him. Far out of the reach of my praise, which is naturally limited by the barriers of my tongue, He loosens my tongue, gives me new tongues, that I may worship without fear of condemnation or inadequacy.   

In His great love and mercy, He does not abandon His child to a state of perpetual helplessness, longing to praise Him as I ought, yet utterly incapable of such supernatural adoration. He sends His Holy Spirit to reside in my heart, giving me the inspiration I need to praise. “He did not wish to remain at a level of praise which could not be reached by those who would praise him.”

How merciful is the Lord, who does not discredit my praise because it of itself is so beneath Him. Rather, He grants His Spirit. This Holy Spirit fills my heart and exults, and I open my mouth and inspired praise comes forth. This praise is born in the Spirit that resides in the temple of my body, wrought in the deep silence of my heart, bringing forth all that is in there that words cannot express. A song of jubilation pours thus forth.

Through Him (the Holy Spirit) I praise God. “But thanks be to him who...has so tempered his praises as to enable both strong and weak to praise him.”  Of myself, I am pitiful, inadequate, and helpless, and all I can do is let the Spirit stir and inspire within me a new song suitable for the ears of my Master. The Spirit of Love thus moves in my heart of hearts, eternally loving the Father and the Son, rejoicing, and I break into jubilation.

To Be Continued... 

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Tuesday, September 29

Full Circle of Love - Finale of the Philosophy of Engagement Rings

The Final Installment of my Philosophy of Engagement Rings. 
I hope you've enjoyed this little essay! 

Finally, the diamond itself is fashioned with many facets. The more facets a diamond has, the greater its capacity to shine. These facets have multiple deeper meanings. They represent how in love and marriage, two lives, filled with a diversity of interests, are intimately yoked together. One does not seek identity in the beloved, but complimentarity. In marriage, two become one, united while retaining their own personhood: the one diamond has many facets.

Additionally, the facets of the diamond, linked with its original lack of color, provide insight into the cooperation of the lover and the beloved with Love Himself. The diamond, colorless of itself, receives into itself the light, and a rainbow of colors emerges forth. Likewise, two hearts joined in loving sacrament, receive into themselves the pure and fecund love of God.

Monday, September 28

Part Two: Philosophy of the Engagement Ring

Part Two of my Philosophy on Engagement Rings. 


Just as the man and the woman are themselves unique, and the relationship through which they find their hearts intertwined is entirely their own, so too the diamond ring is one-of-a-kind. This ring unites something of the giver and something of the wearer. 

Many times, when one admires an engagement ring, the comment is made that the ring “suits” the woman. It becomes her, symbolizes a personal and special relationship in which only she and her lover partake. Sometimes the ring is so unique, the stone is not even a traditional diamond. This matters not. The ring is a symbol of a particular love, and as such, can be any stone. However, the focus of this philosophy rests on the diamond ring. 

Sunday, September 27

She Said Yes: A Three-Part Philosophy of Engagement Rings

This is a philosophy of engagement rings that I had published while in college in our university publication, Lumen Vincens. I came across this recently, while de-cluttering my life, and enjoyed revisiting it tremendously. It captured the excitement and delight of an engaged woman so perfectly. I will blog this essay in three installments. Enjoy!

She turned and discovered him, bent on one knee. His hand was shaking, as he nervously smiled and held out a white box. In this box shone a stunningly beautiful ring, the likes of which she had never seen. Overwhelmed by excitement, a tad nervous, yet still calm, she knew the moment she had been dreaming of had arrived. She waited expectantly to hear those four incomparable words: will you marry me?

Saturday, September 26

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

The Lord is so faithful to me. I pray for renewed ability to trust and surrender, and He provides grace and answers to difficult questions. I pray for companionship on this journey of faith, and He provides a beautiful friend to share life’s joys and challenges with. I do not deserve the attention to detail He always seems to achieve, but He doesn’t give it because I have earned it. He gives it because He is good. 

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my heart with another. It’s amazing how a change of perspective can cause you to reevaluate, give you new courage and hope. It’s even more amazing how when it comes down to it, we are not as alone in our crosses as we think. More often than we realize, our challenges are not so different from those of people close to us. 

The roots of our experiences – stress, anxiety, discouragement, fear, etc – are universal, even if their particular evincing in our lives is unique. I draw so much comfort from the realization that what I experience, others have experienced and overcome and will continue to endure. We learn from each other, from our successes and failures, and together, we move forward towards a common goal of holiness, of unity with Christ.

My challenge for this week is to take the time to recognize the many blessings in my life and learn better to draw joy and happiness from them. Life is hard, but that truth makes it no less poignant, exquisite, or worthwhile. Learning to love ourselves and our lives in the midst of our individual circumstances is a lifelong commitment, but one that makes daily life worth living. 

Instead of focusing on the illusory “someday” – that day when all will be blissful, easy, perfect – we instead grow to love who we are today on the way to who we will become. We must live in the present moment, the only one we are assured we will have.

By focusing on being content in our day-to-day circumstances and drawing joy from the big and little blessings alike, the peace will come. Oh, the peace. I long for it with every fiber of my being. That wondrous state of existence when all else fades before the knowledge that all is well in the Hands of God. Nothing can shake you when you stand firm in His peace. All becomes manageable, meaningful, acceptable. Your will is united with His. 

My mother beautifully describes it as allowing the river’s current to sweep you along, instead of wasting all your energy trying to swim upstream. When I think of peace, I imagine Christ sleeping in the boat as the storm raged around Him. Just because you are at peace in the Lord does not at all mean the storm has ended or has no affect. Rather, it has no power to cause you fear or anxiety, because you are protected by a greater power, Whom all the winds and the seas obey.

Now, the peace, joy, and contentment I seek are not to be confused with complacency and laziness. I do not intend to remain stagnant in my own situation, not moving forward because I’m ok with where I am. I fully intend to challenge myself, to grow in my relationship with the Lord, to seek deeper meaning in my life and my crosses, and to discover new joy in my daily activities. My goal above all is to honor and glorify Him in every moment of every day, no matter what I am doing. Whether I am changing a dirty diaper, singing on stage, running errands, ministering to a broken heart, or simply sitting and relaxing, I intend to glorify Him in all things. 

That’s what we were created to do – our purpose is to glorify Him through our accomplishments, through our humility, through our journey towards holiness, towards Him.

Wish me luck!

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Thursday, September 24

Peace Surpassing Understanding

I love a good thunderstorm. It helps put things in perspective. No matter how crazy or stressful things may seem in my life, watching a thunderstorm reminds me of the awesome power of God. No matter how out of my control things are, they are never out of His, and He has the power to protect and provide.

Thank goodness, because sometimes I feel so... small. So like a little girl. What? I'm 24? I have to do grown-up things and deal with grown-up problems? Can't someone else just take care of me?

Wednesday, September 23

Thank You for the Music - Voice of An Angel Audition!

I wanted to share a bit about my experience at the Voice of An Angel Callbacks at Rock the Universe. I have to be honest and say, for the three weeks preceding, I wasn't nervous at all. I felt that the opportunity that I had been praying the Lord send me for years was finally here. I felt this was the door being flung open, as God proclaimed from on high, "Here, at last, is your chance, my Beloved little one!"

Tuesday, September 22

The Bigger Picture

You wouldn't think that a baby screaming in the backseat could provide a profound life lesson to ponder. Yet, somehow, he does.

Monday, September 21

Become As A Little Child

Incredible, how frequently each day I must sacrifice myself. A few weeks ago, I asked the Lord how I could be a better mother, what I could do to love better, and He said to me, "Little one, every single act you do as a mother is one of selfless love." It overwhelms me, and I fall to my knees and beg for the grace and strength I could never have on my own. My heart simply isn't big enough. But His grace is sufficient and He supplies all we lack.

Today, I endured one of the heartbreaking moments of motherhood. Not my baby bumping his head or falling off the couch (Thank God), but still another source of mommy anxiety (at least for me): baby vaccinations. Matthew is such a champ, and only cries for a little bit, but with every sob my heart aches a little more. 

Now, I did my research for myself, and will not use this blog as a soapbox to iterate the pros/cons of vaccinations. Every mom needs to decide that for herself and for the best good of her little one. I chose to give Matthew his vaccines, and as such have to steel myself every two months for my little one's chubby thighs (oh-so-delicious and squeeze-worthy) to be pricked with needles. I know the benefits are undeniable, but let me tell you, the mama bear in me wants to rip the needles out of that nasty nurse's hands and chase her out of the run for wounding my baby. And while I'm hyperventilating and racing through Hail Mary's ten at a time, Matthew is crying, and then sniffling, and then hiccuping, and then... a smile. All better, Mommy. And I smile back at him through my own tears and aching heart, and say, "My brave boy."

I know now the truth in what my mother always told me, "Gaby, this will hurt me much more than it hurts you..."

And then it struck me: I will bear a heavier cross for having had my little boy, because I will not only bear my own suffering, but that of my beautiful son. He may not be destined to save the world (as was another Son born in Bethlehem). But my Matthew will have his own share of sorrows, and as his mother, I will look on and share all. Sometimes, I'll be able to make it better with a kiss and a Band-Aid. Sometimes, all I will be able to do is cry with him, pray with him, look for meaning with him, suffer with him, and let him

It is the lot of the mother to share burdens beyond her own, and to bear these things in her heart. Am I ready for that, Lord? Only with Your grace, which surpasses understanding. Only then, will my selfish heart be able not only to endure my own suffering, but willing shoulder the sorrow of my children, however small or excruciating. With my own mother as an example, I have witnessed -more so in the past few years, as my mother has become less a authority figure and more a friend- how often a mother must set aside her own trials, to be a source of comfort and wisdom for her little ones. It is a cross added to her cross, but a joyful burden.

My heart aches when my son suffers. My sorrow is inextricably joined to his, and his joy increases mine. I am reminded of how this is an image of what our relationship with God the Father ought in fact be. As His children, His glorification ought be our primary goal and joy, and His suffering ought cause us sorrow. I am learning, little by little, so very much from my new role as mother. I am learning what it means to love unconditionally, what it means to surrender, to trust. I am learning to place all in the hands of my own Father in Heaven, begging for the grace to be what Matthew needs me to be, while growing in my own personhood.

I need to be more like my son. Even as I love him, play with him, teach him, I must never forget that I am called to be more like him - childlike. Trusting that the Lord will never allow me to experience agony without purpose, for my own best good. Resting in His peace, knowing that here alone can I never be harmed. Knowing with absolute certainty that my needs will always be met. For He is my Abba, my Daddy in Heaven. And He will never allow me to suffer without bearing the brunt of it Himself. Maybe someday I'll endure through some suffering without kicking and screaming the whole time. Maybe it'll be me who cries a little, but then clings to the One who is my strength, saying, All better Daddy! And He'll smile lovingly, knowing that it is His grace that carries me through each trial, and say "My brave girl."

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Thursday, September 17

Joy of My Heart

I've mentioned my music and my desire for ministry. Now on to the third "M" of the series, that has recently shot up to the number one occupancy of my time and energy for the past (can't believe it's already been) 4 months: my pride and joy, Mr. Matthew Elliot Frei.

I must admit, I had a challenging pregnancy. I didn't have the roses and ecstasy, blissful choir of angels experience that some women (may they realize just how blessed they are) have. I had wretched morning sickness, crippling migraines, sheer exhaustion, a mental battle against hating myself for putting on all that weight (after a lifetime of dieting), a loss of control over my own body, all in the midst of a full-time job (which, granted, was also a joy). There were some bleak moments when I simply couldn't see the end of the tunnel, and thought I would be pregnant and miserable forever.

Wednesday, September 16

C'est La Vie

A little background:
My mother claims that I emerged from the womb singing. My first words, in fact, were to the tune of Old MacDonald--that's right, E-I-E-I-O and all. So I knew from the first that music HAD to be in my future, somehow, someway. And then the Lord gave me a tremendous gift.

I was 14, and vividly remember a friend of my mom's proclaiming, "Gaby, you MUST write a song. You simply MUST start writing songs!" And I nodded my head with a grin plastered on my face, all the while laughing to myself, thinking, "Right, like I could ever write a song..."

That was ten years ago.

Tuesday, September 15

New Beginnings

My name is Gabriela Frei, and I am a mother.

Incredible to think that this simple sentence sums up my entire daily existence. Those of you who are mothers out there will understand entirely, and perhaps offer up an "Amen, sister." I just recently joined the ranks of mothers across the globe in May of 2009, and already my life is completely transformed. I have dreamed of being a mother since I was ten years old, and I love my son more than myself. He is everything to me. And yet, I was a person before I had my son, and am now on a quest to discover how to bring to fulfillment both entities that I now am. I am Gabriela Frei, and I am a mother.

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