Thursday, August 30, 2007

Greetings from HOTlanta!

Only the best city ever!

I am having a great time here—life is amazing. God is so good—I live in the most amazing apartment, it doesn’t have any furniture in it except 10 beds—there are only 5 of us that live here—we really only sleep and shower here and on Friday nights have girl night….

I work in the Legionary High School here and if I ever doubted what God has wanted me to do with my life, I have totally found it here—I am basically a youth minister—planning the retreats and just meeting the girls and having fun with them and they are so great!

I actually have my first retreat on Monday, so please pray for me and all the girls!

We have had a plethora of hilarious things happening here—our apartment has been infested by cockroaches and I thought I was going to pee my pants when one of my fellow coworkers freaked out and then jumped up on our island and cried how the babies were crawling all over her—it was so funny, I hope I can attach the video to this because we watch it everyday and laugh harder and harder each time—it never gets old.

Well for those of you who know about my obsession with Mother Teresa, get a load of this—I started reading a book with many of her insights complied in it—its called “No Greater Love”—I cry everyday because she is so amazing and inspires me so much. I am working on giving until it hurts, because that is the only way I will really be able to love to the fullest capacity, but anyway the exciting thing is that I am going to go to PA for a weekend commemorating her 10 anniversary into Heaven—the consecrated women didn’t even know about my obsession until after they asked me to go and I nearly cried. I am so excited! It’s the first weekend in October, and you can bet I am counting down.

I think I need to describe to you the individuals I live with—right now there are only 5 of us, like I said, but we are waiting for 2 more—a Mexican and a German, but that’s all we know.

Let’s begin with Elyse. Basically all you need to say is Columbus and that’s her. For some reason the nickname totally fits. She has just graduated high school and has the most amazing boyfriend who writes her one letter a day (I try to not be jealous, I just live vicariously through her). She is extremely hysterical—she’s the one who thought the cockroaches were crawling all over her.

Angela is actually from the Atlanta area and was a co-worker last year in Chicago—weird—her and Elyse are long lost bff’s. We live in a small world. Angela is another crack up—she has a big smile and bigger heart, but is a pistol. She is number 4 of 11, and the typical middle child, extremely sarcastic, but it is so nice to have her here letting us know what to do yaddayadda.

We just had a new girl come, Clarissa, she was unexpected, but totally welcomed. She’s really quiet and a neat-freak, which is good because none of the rest of us are, and our apartment hadn’t been cleaned until she arrived. She’s warming up and helping me learn my espanol. I will be fluent by the end of this year.

And then we have all our favorite, Kritzia. Kritzia is from the Philippines and so kind she almost seems stupid. But she is hilarious. Its just little things that she does that is so hysterical. She has an accent, so I think that is why so many things are hilarious—like she said, “maybe I should just walk it out, walk it out”. Now, this doesn’t seem funny, but those are lyrics to a rap song and hearing her say that in the context of which she did was so funny Elyse fell to the ground. We also call her Princess Kritzia because she has never ironed or done the laundry or cooked before (she looked at the stove and said, “what do you do with this?”) because she has ‘helpers’ at her house. Now, this is a cultural thing in the Philippines, but absolutely hysterical. Everyone just needs a Kritzia.

I just got back from my first retreat experience, and the person I wanted to see most was Kritzia—that’s just how she is for us. We love her—basically, she completes us.

My first retreat was amazing—God worked His magic as always. I am obsessed with the retreats and once again I am totally excited to do this for the rest of my life! it was with sophomore girls, and lets just say that working with sophomores has never been high on my priority list because I don’t like them. I like to say I am allergic. Seriously, I’m sure I was allergic t myself at that time, that’s why I was such a piece of work, I was having a reaction to myself. But praise be to Jesus, I a.) did not kill anyone and b.) won them over completely. At school on Wednesday they all saw me in the hall and were like “hey, what’s up”—we’re tight. It’s a wonder what God can do…

Just yesterday I had the most beautiful meditation—the passage we were using was the loaves and fishes, and when I began to pray on it, Jesus gave me this awesome image. He and I were in this stadium ( I have a hard time with numbers), it was totally full, and He looked at me and said, “ok, what do you have to give them?” and I just looked at Him and almost started laughing…. “ugh, nothing—I don’t have something for all of them” and He just looked at me and asked me to give Him my heart. Of course I gave it to Him, but didn’t expect what next happened. He took my heart and broke it into pieces and began passing it all throughout the stadium. Looking at me, He said, “I need you to love them. Every one of them. You need to give them all of yourself—that’s how they will receive me.” After He said that, there were baskets placed at my feet and He continued explaining, “and because of that, I will give you all the love you need, in excess, like all this left-over.”

He is so good to me—I also felt like He told me in adoration the other day when I was freaking out about life, that He has pursued me, and I need to expect some guy to pursue me in the same way He has if he is really worth it. So, basically….Jesus loves me!

You’re all in my prayers—and I promise I miss you. Its weird, especially with school starting and everything….bittersweet. I guess I’m learning to sacrifice, and that’s awesome!

In closing, some good ole Mother Teresa to warm the soul,

“This is something all of us need to learn. The chance to share our love with others is a gift from God. May it be for us just as it was for Jesus. Let’s love one another as He has loved us. Let’s love one another with undivided love. Let’s experience the joy of loving God and loving one another.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Little Ditty about crazy Maria

So…I use that word a lot to begin things….maybe I should stray away from it, but I feel like it is so me.

Alright, so I’m heading to the ATL, the 30092 zip code, the 770 area code and I am so excited I can hardly stand it. Now for those of you who know me, (and I hope all of you feel as though you slightly know me through this blog) you know that there is a story behind this excitement. If you know me, you know that I like things to go my way, and remaining in the great USA was nowhere in my plans. I can picture you thinking, “this is not a natural Maria reaction” and you are correct, it is not. It is supernatural, I have received, let me rephrase, been FLOODED with graces from the love of my life, Jesus.

Here’s the deal—we had a silent retreat, a Tridium (I am completely perplexed as to how to spell it…I’m sure I’ll learn before this year is over) but anyway, I was able to have 72 hours of silence to spend time with Jesus. It was great—I needed it. Granted, I had a hard time staying awake during all the talks even though they were fabulous, I just can’t focus. The most fabulously funny old Mexican priest, Fr. Lorenzo Gomez and my favorite things he said were a.) (in regards to a children) I told her just to grab her monkeys and go home. b.) just pick up your cross and shut up and c.) if God really wanted, he could have a raccoon do it (in regards to spreading the Kingdom). Hilarious.

Jesus had an agenda for me….you know how I feel about agendas—I am slowly learning to appreciate them. I had my first general confession—for those of you who don’t know what that is, it is confessing all you sins of your entire life. Basically, I had a panic attack in the chapel when Christ asked me to do this—I love confession. Hahaha. But in all seriousness, this was the BEST experience of me life. After I went, I was completely transparent and all smiles. My spiritual director stopped me, smiled and said, “you just had your first general confession, huh?” Shocked, by her inclination, I asked, “how the heck did you know?” giggling she replied, “I could see your smile a mile away. And there is only one reason for that-extreme grace.” Jesus, you are beautiful. He kinda was like “hey re, you trust me yet? I always know what is best for you” little did I know those graces would come so in handy.

The next little surprise was a beautiful image me shedding a layer of myself at the foot of the cross. I’ve been struggling a lot with become dependent and obeying the schedule and rules…surprised? Didn’t think so. I have this incredibly hilarious way of thinking that all rules and boundaries exclude me. But I have really been trying hard, and the fact that I desire to surrender that pride makes Jesus smile. When my first layer shed off, He smiled at me and said, “thank you for surrendering your first layer. Now things are going to change.”

I really really love Him and His gentle tenderness.

Another grace—I was just rackin’ up the graces. I was totally loving it—like yea Maria! You are so gonna rock out Jesus when you go out of the country. Ha!

So the big moment came at the conclusion of our retreat—revealing of the destinations! As the suspense grew, we grabbed hands and the room looked like the Miss America Pageant—we’re all awaiting the judges final results, squeezing hands, tears in eyes, breathing quickening….it was disgustingly hysterical.

First announced, international. Mexico, not me. Phillippeans, not me. Ireland, not me. Even Canada, not me. Jesus….are you thinking?

Now we’re in the states….ok, well I better be going to California. That’s the only cool place. Chicago, whew! Not me. Louisiana, thank God not me. St. Louis, whew. Not me. Naples, FLA., not me….little bummer. Atlanta, GA—dundundun! Maria Lees! You’re joking—it’s not possible—I plastered a REALLY fake smile across my face. We go to the chapel before we call our new directors and parents. I kneel in my usual place and the screaming begins. I think I should take this moment to express a slight disclaimer. I need a man who treats me like Jesus treats my mildly (ok, lets be honest, flaming) hot side. I go nuts. JESUS! What are you thinking? You are crazy mad up there in high heaven! You better come down here right now and inspire in my directors that there was some kind of mistake and I am hightailing my way outta this country! You are nuts! You, you, you, I am soooo mad at you! What are you thinking?

His comeback—are you finished?


I’m sorry you’re upset. But I know what is best for you, where you are most needed, where you will most grow. You have to trust me and be at peace.

And just like that, that comforting pep talk washed peace over me. From that moment, I was excited. And let’s be serious—I will be in the American hub of the movement, I am going to learn so much, it’s not even funny! I’ll be working with the Young Women section, which is high schoolers, so that is a total blessing and my team gets the best of both worlds, an apartment 2 minutes from the consecrates—our own space, but all the graces of living with the consecrates. Jesus does spoil me. J

And so my adventure is about to begin—in less than 48 hours actually. I’m afraid my suitcases are going to be over weight, and that my carry on is actually too big for a carry on. God will take care of it though, He always does.

I am also very excited because I will probably be able to come home for my birthday, which would be so exciting—I always forget how much I love my family, which is my church, which is the ultimate human reality of Christ for me, until I am away from them and can’t call when I want to hear all their sweet voices and entertaining news—there is ALWAYS something new going on.

I am sorry I haven’t been able to update as much as I would like too, or as much as you would like me too….i’m going to try and be better, but I only have email time once a week and it takes quite a chunk of time to relay to you all the exciting things that are going on!

Which reminds me—please keep me posted on you and what is going on with you and your family—I love hearing stories and keepin’ one foot in the “loop” if you will.

I have another song for you to ponder—Jesus love me to sing to Him, and He has a funny way of giving me the songs to sing. This is the most recent—I hope you enjoy, and if any of you have it, can I please borrow it when I come home for Christmas?

Your Love is Extravagant

Casting Crowns

Your Love

Is extravagant

Your friendship


I feel like I am movin’

To the rhythm of your grace

Your fragrance intoxicating

in our secret place

Your Love

Is extravagant

Spread wide

In the arms of Christ

Is the love that covers sin

No greater love

Have I ever know

You consider me a Friend—

So capture my heart again.

Allow Jesus to capture and completely love your heart—and love Him completely back!

Count on my prayers!

My new address is directly below this post—I will state once again love letters, care packages, are always accepted and appreciated!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My Info

So I am going to Atlanta. I am so excited--Jesus has been teaching me humility and bulldozing me with graces....more details to come.

But here is my new address--I already have it memorized, sick, i know. I guess I'm hopeful....

Maria Lees
Domus Mariae Atlanta
4040 Gunnin Rd.
Norcross, GA 30092

and my email is

love letters and care packages are always accepted. i actually need some new nylons, specifically some thigh highs in the "nude" hue if possible.

Thanks for your continual prayers and love! Count on my prayers!

More to come soon...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hello Friends!

Well as promised, I have a long awaited love story, and I’ll explain later. I want you to be waiting in suspense because 1.) it is that good and 2.) God is that good and 3.) Mary is an amazing mother.

So the YFE….

Fun and jam packed—5,000 plus personas allĂ­.

I was working mostly “behind the scenes” and didn’t receive much of a chance to get in the action unless it was with 7-9 years olds, because I was a K4J team leader….the teams were supposed to only be 10 kids and somehow I ended up with 14, with 10 of them boys. Every morning was an interesting morning, we’ll leave it at that.

Thursday I believe it was, once again all the days blur into one giant day, I experienced a bit of a meltdown while in adoration and it went something like this

“Jesus….i love you. But I am so done with this, these rules, these norms, these nylons—I am going straight to back to Cincy after this”

And then the rebuttal, “Maria, that’s funny, because I think this is where I want you to be. So I guess you’re gonna have to decide, your will or My Will.”

Fine. If you put it like that…….

But then, all the amazing things started happening, and I realized that in fact Jesus does love me (I don’t believe I have actually ever doubted that reality).

Friday I was asked by one of my best friend, Ashley’s, parents to go to a special dinner with Fr. Alvaro, our General Director. What an amazing experience. I arrived in front of the largest house I have ever seen, I thought it was a museum, was admist the elite of Regnum Christi and found myself completely enjoying watching the interaction of priests with these individuals. Cardinal Rode (he is in charge of religious in Rome), who invited himself to the YFE because he is obsessed with RC was there and I called him “Father” on accident…whoops. And then I met an older woman named Claire from California who has basically adopted the Legionaries—seriously. She has bought a pool table, fuse ball and decided to buy a air hockey table while we were talking to they come over often. So this is how the other half lives. Awesome. She also invited me to visit whenever I wanted and assured me that I will always have a place to stay in Callie….dude (I feel as though that is the way you respond in Californian.)

So this is my thought process, “good things come in 3s….those were 3 goodies, and I know (exercising my childlike faith) that I will meet Eduardo. There is no way in high heaven that my Father would not let me meet him.” Well, being Saturday and all, I placed my desire to meet the man of my dreams in Mary’s hands. I guess I figured that my mother would do anything for me that was within her control and power, so Mary who is tight with Jesus, my Savior, can pretty much pull some strings for me.

Lets just say that the entire day was a tease. I would see Eduardo from a slight distance, I would get oh so close to stroking his beautifully luscious black locks, but I always missed the moment. I decided against the crowd of 15 year old girls running after him to become like that, because who wants to say that they basically attacked their husband upon their first meeting? I mean, that would be so embarrassing.

At last I finally saw my chance to steal a moment with him—and then got called away to partake in a special mission—transporting a full drum set from the world congress center to a hotel on the other end of the street. Ok, this was a special mission—and now it is time for you to sit down, or else the excitement will overtake your body, you will start shaking, possibly go into convulsions and collapse. Quite frankly, I don’t want my fabulous love life to be the cause of any injuries—it would them loose all spunk for me, not to mention what it is ultimately going to do to you.

While in the middle of transporting this large, bulky, awkward drum set, a very charitable dad asked if he could help. We graciously accepted his offer, but shot down his suggestion of crossing the street to go directly into the South Tower of the Omni Hotel. We were on the side of the street with the North Tower and found it prudent to just go in there and go across the skywalk to get to the 15th floor of the south tower. Once inside the lobby, I volunteered myself to venture to find a pushy thing to pack up and take across. I found one downstairs, got in the elevator and started up to the lobby. Once out of the elevator lost in my thoughts about only God knows what, I turn the corner and see can’t believe my eyes—straight in front of me are the luscious locks I longed to stoke. You know how Bugs Bunny sees like a girl bunny and his jaw slams to the floor? You now know what I looked like for a split second. Quickly I composed myself, I think I may have pushed a priest out of my way (sorry Father), grabbed the beautiful hand of my love and sinking deeply into his transcending blue eyes said, “Hi.”

Hhhhhhhmmmmmmmmm……(sweet sigh)

Our conversation continued for a few minutes while all time stopped and it was just him and I holding hands expressing to each other how we were praying for each other and we would continue to do so (I’m not kidding) and then he was whisked away, gently saying, “it was great to meet you”. As soon as a turned from him, my body started to frantically shake, my friends assured me that I was totally collected and I invited them all to our wedding on the spot. I knew he would want the first witnesses there.

The rest of the night I was floating. I still levitate when I think about it—and thank Mary for being such an amazing mother and pulling through.

Those of you who are curious to meet the man I will be marrying can go to and not only meet him, but also get extremely pumped for Bella’s world premiere October 26. It is going to be super important that there is a huge presence at the box office that opening weekend so to show Hollywood that it is possible to have a successful movie with moral values. Please, please, please check it out and mark your calendars!

I am sorry it has taken me so long to update….i hope it was worth the wait! Blessings!

PS—I’m going to Atlanta….and am totally excited! Sorry Begona! J