Friday, December 3, 2010

Life Got in the Way

For a long time I've thought about blogging, I've come up with different ideas of what to blog on, but then I kept working, or when not at work, relaxing, because who wants to work when they're home!? Anyway, I'm still here with hopes to do more... eventually!

In the meantime, here's a great little video for the season:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

God Moment

Recently I've fallen into this great habit of reading a chapter from the Bible while I eat my cereal in the morning. The first day I thought this would be a good idea is when my (new) Saint Mary's Press Family Connection Bible was on my dining table. I decided to flip it open and then I became giddy and started to laugh because I turned directly to my favorite Scripture passage, the one this blog is named after: Romans 12:9-12. Seriously, what are the odds of that happening!? Thank you, Holy Spirit! It still makes me smile thinking about it. Since then I've been reading a chapter from Paul's great letter to the Romans. I can't name precisely why I'm more interested in reading the Bible now, but I can say I'm glad this spark was started in me.

Trust Issues

Who doesn't have them!? I was thinking and praying about trust a lot during Adoration last Sunday. It probably all started from reading the Intro to With Open Hands, a Nouwen classic. The reflection was focused on what we are holding on to, such as our fears, and I began to reflect on my Echo experience. I had to put a lot of trust into God... was this the right thing? Trusting God had a plan for me in Texas, the last place I wanted to be. That got me thinking about real trust. I think we can often say we are trusting in God's plan for our lives, but how often are those just words? I don't know the answer to that, but I'd like to think that I had genuine trust. I was happy (for the most part) in Texas and I let my gifts be used. Well, that got me thinking about Echo summers and how Echo 5, especially Cafe Disco, brought out the best in me. I believe that is testimony enough that I did let go of my fears and started trusting God's plan.

One of the things I fear the most is my future and having no idea where it's headed. Included in that is the relationship I'm in. We've talked about the future, about marriage, but he isn't always sure about it, so sometimes I get worried and stress over it. But as soon as I realized that and knew that I had to let it go and trust that whatever does happen with this relationship is the will of God, I felt this great peace sweep over me. I certainly have my plans and what I want (again, who doesn't!?), but part of my plan needs to be trusting in God's plan, whether they coincide or not. I believe we are given certain desires for a reason. Why did I want to become a youth minister? Because I was given the gift of working with youth, and now here I am, employed full-time at a parish!

Sometimes you just know... you know it's love and it's meant to last, you know what you want to do and be, you know the decisions you need to make and those you don't. I like to call those "God things" or "God moments" because you know it's all a part of His divine plan and you're happy where you are, genuinely happy and you feel at peace. Praise God for those reassuring times!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

A few weeks ago, when my dad was in town visiting me, we went to see the movie Eat, Pray, Love. I hadn't read the book and my dad was part of the way through it, but we both wanted to see the movie. Despite what the US Bishops said about the movie, I liked it. They're discouraging people from seeing it because of the acceptance of divorce and the nonmarital and premarital relations that happen throughout the story line. Apart from those details, it was great! It gave a little insight into three completely different countries: Italy, India, and Indonesia. Each experience in the distinct countries corresponds to her title; she ate in Italy, prayed in India, and fell in love in Indonesia. The bishops also criticize the movie for it's lack of, or perhaps complete disregard for Christianity and "ignoring [it] as a source of insight." In the book Liz Gilbert does write on Christianity. The purpose of her year-long excursions to these exotic places was a self-indulgent, self-seeking "pampered pilgrimage."

While the movie doesn't follow the book perfectly, you get a general feel for the book and the adventures that Liz Gilbert experienced. After seeing the movie I zipped over to and bought the book. I cannot say that I agree with a lot of the decisions Gilbert made and how she went about things, but I can say that there are some valuable lessons to be learned from her travels and own insights. As I continue to travel along with Liz in her written account I plan on writing my own observations. I like to call it: Catholicizing Eat, Pray, Love.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

First Middle School Event

Last night I held my first middle school event called Saturday Night Live (SNL). They were very popular last year and for my first one I had no clue how many to expect. I had some games in mind and I thought it would be fun to make our own pizzas (using English muffins or the thin sandwich buns). Well, the kids kept coming and I think I had a total of about 35. I guess I was expecting, perhaps even hoping, for 20-30 to show, but once their bodies are physically present, 35 seems a lot larger than it did in my head. I was so overwhelmed and I really had no idea what to do; they had so much energy. Plus they're really bad at listening. Extremely bad.

I learned a few lessons: order pizza instead of making your own... that takes too long to do! Reserve the gym... they can be more wild and crazy there. Have more ideas for middle school games: during the night I realized that some games I had planned out were not going to work with the middle school bunch. Over prepare. 

Middle school ministry is not one of my strengths and if it was up to me, I wouldn't want to do another middle school event... but it's part of my job. Before my next event I'll be sitting down with the DRE to talk about planning middle school events and how we can un-do what happened last year (where they only played games and had no faith or prayer elements). We at least prayed at the end of the event last night. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In 5 years?

What do I want to be doing in five years? Yikes, I don't even know what I'll be doing next year! I assume I'll still be working at St. Andrew with youth ministry, and maybe I'll be doing that in five years as well, but who knows! I've been asked that question twice in the past few months. I have hopes and dreams of what I want to do, but right now I'm simply trying to focus on my immediate job. It takes some time getting used to and settling into a new position, but I'm sure in a year from now I'll have things running smoothly. And maybe then I can put a little more focus on things I'd like to be doing in five years. What is it that I'd like to do? I would like to write more, not only for my blog, but also a book. I think that would be really awesome; I even have a friend who would edit it for me! I'd also like to have some speaking engagements - whether it's for a local parish or conference, or maybe someday a larger conference in a different state. What do I want to write about and speak on? Good question. I've always had an interest in speaking on and sharing the importance of chastity and purity, but maybe my interests will change as I continue to work in youth ministry. Lord, let it be done to me according to your word. God's got His plan and I have my hopes... maybe they'll coincide with each other. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Youth Ministry Obstacles

At times it seems like parents are the biggest obstacles to youth ministry when they should be its advocates! Not all parents are challenging and some understand what Comprehensive Youth Ministry means; I do not want to downplay the help they have already provided.

Last night was the first night of our "youth group" or "youth night." Ours may be a little different from other parishes because it also counts for religious education classes. It's open to all high school students and yes, there is a catechesis component to it. A mom came in to bring her daughter and to introduce herself, since she has been an important part of our middle school ministry in the past. When she heard that it also counted as religious education she was about ready to take her daughter home since she goes to the Catholic high school and gets her religious ed from there. And she somehow thinks that is enough. I suppose she assumed that my youth night would always be a social night... but I am not holding a strictly social night every Sunday! What about faith?  What about learning? Where does true fellowship and community come from? It looks like my challenge will be to teach parents what Comprehensive Youth Ministry means; it's not all about the fun and games, there are eight components that need to be incorporated into youth ministry. This could either be a rough year or a very fruitful year. I choose fruitful.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why God Matters - Book Review

Why God Matters is a great little gem to have in your spiritual reading collection. It contains short stories and reflections on faith by a daughter and father, one a cradle Catholic, the other a convert. It has a simplistic beauty to it; the chapters are short, which makes it easy to put down and pick up on your own time. Each chapter is a great personal witness of their own faith, but what I like the most are the little extras after the stories. Each chapter contains a Life Lesson, a short Scripture passage, and a quote from the Catechism. The Life Lessons help the reader to reflect on their own faith life and can be a great guide for prayer, while the Scripture and CCC quotes tie everything together. This isn't just another book on faith and it doesn't tell you why God should matter in your life. I see it more as a witness to God's love and a tool for the reader to examine their faith and help them grow as witnesses of Christ.

Check out chapter two here:

And while you're at it, check out the book's website:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Curb Check

This past weekend I unfortunately hit a curb. I blew my tire and caused some damage to my car. I've had a frustrating and difficult week trying to get my car serviced with many trips back and forth from the dealership (which is about a 45 minute drive). August was a pretty rough month for me, it seemed like everything was going wrong, and this curb check was the icing on the cake. I've only had my car a month and now this happens!?

Yesterday I got a loner car from the dealership (a 2010 Altima which I fell in love with) and as I was driving it back to Fort Worth in the pouring rain I thought I'd reflect on this whole experience. I asked myself what lesson I could learn from all of this and then I started laughing. The first thing that came to my mind was "wake-up call." I think it was a wake-up call from God; just how I wasn't paying careful attention to driving, I haven't been paying close attention to God and His workings in my life. Yesterday I was given a ride by a Nissan courtesy driver and we had a nice chat about faith and prayer. One of the things that sticks out to me from that conversation is "we know who our Lord is, Jesus Christ, and he will always take care of us, but we've got to put our trust in him, too."

September is going to be a much better month: I'm going to put my trust in Jesus and work on my routine for prayer.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You Get What You Pay For

I wish that statement wasn't always true... as a person who tries to save money here and there I'd like a break once in awhile! This past week I have learned that sometimes it's better to dish out more money, especially with haircuts and hotels.

I spent last night at an Extended Stay in Little Rock, AR. Through Expedia I only paid $40 for it, which I thought was pretty awesome... until I got here. My non-smoking room smelled like smoke had still seeped in somewhere, I was a little worried my car might get broken into, and the bed was terrible. The dorm beds at Notre Dame will probably be more comfortable than the bed I slept in last night. Live and learn, right?

Yesterday I drove 5 1/2 hours, today will add at least another hour of driving as I make my way to St. Louis. The drive through Arkansas is beautiful and quite peaceful. I think it's similar for Missouri too, but I'll find out soon enough! First things first: a stop at Target to pick up socks (if I actually find the time to take walks around the lake) and a highlighter to continue my studying. :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Living in Crazy Town...

...and I don't mean Nashville! If you listen to country music you'll get the reference...

But seriously, things have been quite stressful, very hectic, and sometimes I have to stop to catch my breath. I just got back from DCYC (Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference - Fort Worth), a weekend event of 1600 youth, and now it's time to unpack my apartment! Hopefully this week will be less stressful and I'll have more time for studying. I can't believe how busy work has been - I thought I'd have time to study during the day, but that just hasn't happened. I'm also working on another blog which I'll probably put a bit more effort into, since it's for work. I thought it would be really cool to create a blog for my parish youth ministry. Right now there is only one welcome post, but I'll be blogging about DCYC, putting up pictures and maybe video (if it turned out), and as time progresses, other youth news or things pertaining to youth ministry. The purpose is for the youth and their parents (and parishioners, if interested), to check out the website to keep updated on events and what their kids actually do at these events. :) I'm really excited about it. Like I said, it's in the works, but if you want to check it out just go to

Ok, that's all for now, time to unpack and settle into my apartment. It's not very fun living out of boxes...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer in Texas

I cannot wait to escape from the Texas heat when I take my trip up to Wisconsin. Down here it's almost 100 degrees, but up north it will be in the 80s the whole week I'll be there. So excited! Down here you have to simply deal with the heat; you learn how to touch your hot steering wheel and what clothes not to wear. You just put up with it because it's the only thing you can do, unless you want to live your entire summer indoors. Tonight, despite the heat, a small group of friends and I went to "Stars under the Stars," they play a movie on a jumbo-tron in one of the parking lots downtown. It was a lot of fun - you bring your own chair or blanket (but who really wants to sit on the hot asphalt?) and they have some concessions there. Tonight they showed "Blindside." I saw the movie once with Jeremy and it was still good the second time and still made me tear up at different points of the movie. And again, I still didn't understand the reference to Lawerence whoever... I guess something about protecting the quarterback's blind side? Anyone know?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Real Job!

On Tuesday I accepted the position of Youth and Young Adult Ministries Coordinator at the parish where I have been apprenticing for the past two years. 24 people applied, 5 people were interviewed, and one person was chosen. I feel very blessed and I am very grateful for this opportunity to serve this parish in a greater way. It will be difficult because it will be like starting from scratch. I just hope that I can be seen as my own person and not as the past youth minister. I also hope that I can work effectively at putting my vision and goals into place at the parish.

I officially begin July 1 and I'm thinking of giving this blog a new twist... I think I might focus it on church work and parish ministry - the day to day stuff that happens at the office, random things people say, my struggles and joys of being a youth minister. We'll see how that goes.

Right now I have a ton on my plate. On Sunday I'll be flying home to Wisconsin to spend a week there hanging out with my family and packing up things from my original home. I'll be attending two weddings and hanging out with Echo people at one of them (yay!), and then road tripping down with Jeremy to officially move myself from the Dairy State to the Lonestar State. I have an apartment all lined up, which I am super excited about. It has everything I want in an apartment and it's at a great location. On top of all that moving and starting a new job, I also have to continue to study for my comprehensive exam. Who am I kidding... I have to start studying! I hope a month will be enough time to go over the material... Prayers for that please!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


It's amazing how things work in media production and how people can stretch things out. Don't get me wrong, I love the concept of the movie/book Fireproof and The Love Dare, but at times it seems like people are in it for profit. I'm not exactly sure what came first, if it was The Love Dare or the movie Fireproof (let's say the movie). It was a decent movie - the acting wasn't award-winning, but the storyline was. In the movie The Love Dare was introduced and that is what kept a broken marriage from dissolving completely. Viewers were then intrigued and wanted to know more about The Love Dare, so [they] wrote some more books. There is The Love Dare, similar to the journal in the movie, in two forms: hardcover or a leather journal (again, like the movie). There is also The Love Dare for couples, a year-long devotional. There are several more resources on how to "fireproof your marriage." So there is a movie, several books on The Love Dare, small group study guides, and then someone wrote the book Fireproof, which is how I first came in contact with it.

It seems strange that a book was written after a movie, but someone decided they wanted to expand the story. I enjoyed reading the book more than watching the movie; it allowed time for the characters and plot to develop and I was more emotionally involved. I was actually mad at the husband in the beginning because I thought he was such a jerk! He redeems himself by using The Love Dare and the book had me crying at the end. It's a great book about faith as well. Caleb (the husband) asks his dad "how can I love someone who constantly rejects me over and over again?" while his dad is standing by a life-size cross. This is a story about love, not only the love between a husband and wife, but the love that God gives us freely and graciously and He never gives up hope.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Things taking up space in my mind:

Just read Fireproof and it's awesome, I'm looking forward to watching the movie (hopefully this weekend).

This is my last day in the office as an apprentice... I really need to hurry up and pack.

I really hope I get the job... I don't know why I wouldn't, but it isn't official just yet.

I'm looking forward to girls night tonight - our last meal together (potentially) until Angie takes off and it's just Paola and I in the house.

There is a lot to read for studying for comps.

I wish I had more time to read other things!

I'm looking forward to moving all my stuff down to Texas in one month and being able to scrapbook again.

I haven't been writing poetry lately and I'm not ok with that.

I think I'm going to listen to some Francesca Battistelli, I really enjoy her stuff.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Ugh, do I really want to live in Texas!? (Yes, yes I do). But these allergies are killing me. At least, that's what I'm assuming this is. It's all in my nose and yesterday I had never been so plugged up and congested in my life! Around 8:30pm I couldn't take it anymore and made a trip to CVS to stock up on Claretin, Afrin, and Kleenex. It's hard to want to do anything and I've definitely been tired. Hopefully I'll be up for a little elliptical workout later on today. This stuffed up nose even makes prayer difficult; last night I decided I was not going to go to Adoration because I knew I'd be miserable trying to breathe and having my nose constantly dripping. Plus it's hard to concentrate with my head stuffed up. I hope to get in a meditation on ch 2 (and 3?) of Hebrews later tonight.

Oh Texas, why do you have to give everyone allergies, even when we've never had them before?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

< Two Weeks

I have less than two weeks as an apprentice in the Echo program. My last day at the parish is May 27th and a few days after that one of my roommates will be moving out, which means the end of our community. These two years have come and gone very quickly and in the midst of it all there have been many ups and downs. I have been challenged and strengthened, experienced loneliness and the blessings of friendship, worked hard on projects and slacked off at my desk. I have stared out the same window for two years, watching the tree change with the seasons and the sky darken and brighten with the sun. I would love to capture and bottle up my experience in Echo, but no bottle is big enough! I have struggled with faith, I have lived the faith, and through it all I love the faith. Only myself and the others in Echo 5 will ever know the full effect of our experience, for it can't be explained. The lived experience of our close-knit community will always be treasured in my heart.

Speaking of it being the end... I still have study guides to work on! :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Practice of the Presence of God

I'll admit that my prayer life hasn't been the absolute best these past couple months. I've had some great prayer experiences here and there and I truly appreciate my time in Adoration every Sunday night, but the day to day prayer... well... it's more quick prayers then taking the time to simply sit and be in God's presence. When I met with my spiritual director earlier this week he suggested that I practice simply being in the presence of God, wherever I am. It's difficult to do but I have found myself reminding myself about God's presence here and now. Brother Lawrence wrote a book titled "The Practice of the Presence of God" and you can find it online, for free, here. I don't know if it is the full book, but it's about 20 pages when you print it out. I haven't read it yet but hopefully tonight I'll get to some of it. Sometimes one of the most difficult times to recognize God's presence is when we are supposed to see Christ in others, even if and when they are annoying. How easy it is to forget that Christ dwells in each and every one of us.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fear, Trust, Love

With the end of my time as an apprentice approaching rapdily there have been many things on my mind, specifically regarding the future... my future. It's scary to look ahead, even to the next 6 months - especially when I do not have a job lined up. Of course, many people in my program do not have jobs lined up just yet, but I only have one in mind, and that is to stay at the parish I am at (and do youth ministry). Sometimes I feel frustrated at the process and other times I feel excited and at peace.

This morning while I was driving to work I heard the song "How He Loves Us" by the David Crowder Band. I've heard the song before and I love it. It reminds me to sometimes just be still and let God's love and mercy move me the way it will. To simply be in God's presence, remembering how much He does love me. Here's a video with lyrics to the song (although they're not 100% accurate, but pretty darn close).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"We're not meeting next week?"

This question was posed last night by one or two of the students in the High School religious ed class. I was slightly shocked! Last night was our last class and some of the students expressed interest in wanting to come back next week! Instead of coming back to an empty room I suggested that they come hang out at our youth gathering on Sunday nights. They had no interest in coming during the year when I talked about it, but maybe things are different now. Sometimes they really do need that personal invite and how quickly I forget that. Don't we all need that personal invite? It's how things get started!

In high school my best friend went to a "Steubenville Conference" during the summer and the next school year she told me about it. I saw her excitement in it and it sounded like fun. Although, like most people, I thought she said "Stupidville" at first. I ended up going to four Steubenville North Conferences and I chaperoned one later in college.

When I transfered to a new college during my freshman year, a girl I was friends with in high school invited me to daily mass, and ever since that it became a pattern for me: mass with friends and then lunch after. It was that feeling of love and support that I felt in the beginning that led me to be a leader for many campus ministry activities in my college years. And it was a friend who told me about the ECHO Faith Formation program through the University of Notre Dame.

It's amazing to think about the impact that people have on us and the impact and influence that we can have on others. Who are you impacting today? Who is being influenced by your daily actions?

Monday, April 26, 2010


A high school religious ed class was asked to write down their answers to four questions on prayer and these are the answers that they came up with. Sometimes it's amazing to see what they come up with and to realize they have been listening in class all along!

Prayer is...

when you speak to God/a way to talk to God
important! And it's awesome to pray and God is always there to listen to us!
a way to communicate with God
when you want to make something good for someone else.

Prayer is important because...

we can ask for God's forgiveness
it helps us communicate with God
you can ask for help
it makes us closer to God
it makes you feel better
it can express our feelings
it's a way to talk to God whenever you need help
it gets a lot off my mind and makes me feel better and takes stress off my back and talking to God is great!

God communicates with us through...

our hearts
other people
our prayers
our minds
the Bible
everything that happens in our life

We respond to God's communication with us by...

praying to him and listening to him
helping others
talking to others
communicating with God
giving money to the church

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Live from NCCL!

I have been in Las Vegas for two days and I have one more full day left at the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. Time seems to slip away here, probably because the days are packed with so many speakers and functions to attend. This afternoon was kind of chill and I just woke up from an hour long nap. Oh it was good.

I have really enjoyed myself so far. I have met so many people whose names I will probably not remember and have visited a plethora of publishers exhibits, seeking only the free resources and catalogs I can pick up. One of the best parts of NCCL has been receiving all the free books that I have! Turns out that if you attend a publisher's showcase (where they present their material, usually a new product), you get free stuff. This morning I woke up bright and early so I could attend the Saint Mary's Press showcase at 8am, but it was sure worth it because I received their newest bible: The Catholic Family Connections Bible. I love it! There are so many resources inside of it and it truly will make a great addition to any family's home. My thought is to give it to families who are preparing for baptism. This afternoon I also received The Catechist's Toolbox, which I was extremely excited to get. I'm hoping it can help me in the future when planning and presenting catechist trainings and meetings.

Coming to this conference has really boosted my motivation to become a catechesis expert. Well, I don't know about expert, but I would like to continue learning so that I can help others to learn and grow and help them to better teach our young ones at the parishes. Hopefully I can carry this enthusiasm into work next week when I get back to reality and sit back in my desk chair, eyes wondering out the window...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Easter and Beyond

I love the Easter season: signs of new life, singing Alleluia again, celebrating the Risen Christ. It truly is a joy-filled season... but why does it have to be so busy!? So much going on at work and socially! But being busy isn't what I wanted to reflect on today.

Last Sunday we had a mystagogy session for RCIA. Unfortunately not even half of our "class" showed up, we ended up with 8 people that morning. It was still a great time, for we got to hear more testimonies from everyone. Several people mentioned how Mass that morning (one week after Easter) was more special than the actual Easter Vigil. They also said the Vigil was special in itself, but the following Mass held more meaning for them. I wouldn't have thought of that. To me it was another Mass on Sunday, although it was in the Easter season. These people were able to go to Mass with their families and receive the Eucharist. No special bells and whistles, but a normal Mass, and it was extremely special to them. How many times do we take Mass for granted? It's amazing what we can learn from those in RCIA.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Almost There!

Lent can be and is a trying time for some people. Several of my co-workers at the parish became quite ill this past month. Grandparents of friends became ill and one has passed away. We can get bombarded with stories of pain and suffering, whether our own, our friends, or from the news and media. As I was talking to my mentor yesterday, she said it feels like evil is winning, with all the bad things happening in the world around us. It could be easy to believe, but as Christians, we know the ending.

All the beauty and glory of our faith will soon be brought forth in churches across the world! The Triduum represents SO MUCH! Faith and servitude we are to take up (washing the feet of others), pain and suffering, but also mercy (venerating the cross), and finally hope and new life! Jesus's death was not in vain, our Savior did not die so evil can win. He died so that we, his followers and believers, can have hope and combat the evil of the world with our love.

Those in RCIA at my parish will be experiencing the full Triduum, plus our own "holy hours" and prayer services. Although they have been going through this journey for about 7 months now, this is the time where hearts are converted and truly opened up. I am excited that I am able to participate and witness their conversions and their entry into the church. Triduum, here we come!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Week!

I am back from Mexico.
I got a sinus infection, probably while I was in Mexico.
It's finally Holy Week!

Sometimes Lent seems longer than it is. Can't we sing the Gloria yet? Can't we use the "A" word at Mass? When do we get to celebrate!? Well, here it is, the holiest week of the year. It's actually hard to believe that this weekend we will be celebrating the Triduum. I only have two more days of work and then I have a 5 day weekend, except, of course, for the RCIA obligations I must attend.

I've been thinking lately about how awesome the Triduum is; it's a liturgy that expands over three days! That's pretty darn awesome! Last year was my first time to experience it at a different church, and it was beautiful. My parish really does look empty when everything is taken down and the doors of the tabernacle are left open on Thursday and Friday. There is a feeling of emptiness... But then at the Easter Vigil there is a sense of great rejoicing with the Gloria and all the lights turning on. He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Too Long

It has been way too long since I've posted on here! I'm getting terrible at this, and the posts will be taking a break for at least a week because I'm going to Mexico with my family. Maybe I'll actually have some time at a computer where I can update though.

I am slightly concerned about my prayer life while on vacation. My spiritual director said I just need to make the most out of the little opportunities to express gratitude to God and simply remember Him. Larry Cunningham, a professor at Notre Dame, says that a simple act of remembering God is an act of prayer. I'll be in Mexico for a whole week, so I hope I'll have some time to reflect a little bit, perhaps journal. I have zero plans for this trip and have few expectations - although I do plan on relaxing, enjoying myself, and getting some reading done!

I really need to pack...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

You Are You!

If you'd never been born, well then what would you be? You might be a fish! Or a toad in a tree!... or worse than all that... Why, you might be a WASN'T. A Wasn't has no fun at all. No, he doesn't. A Wasn't just isn't. He just isn't present.

But you... you ARE YOU! And, now isn't that pleasant!... Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Shout loud, "I am lucky to be what I am! Thank goodness I'm not just a clam or a ham or a dusty old jar of sour goosberry jam!... I am what I am! That's a great thing to be! If I say so myself, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!"

Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to Me!, 1959

Doesn't that just bring a smile to your face?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lent? Oh yeah.

Today in Fort Worth it is a beautiful sunny, 75 degree day. Days like this one remind us that spring is on it's way, if not already here, and that means new life and new things to do in the city. I don't know what it is exactly, but I am excited about Spring in Texas. Not only will that mean more beautiful days and warmer weather, but it also means longer days are soon approaching (Daylight savings is Sunday). And warmer weather and more daylight means more opportunities to do activities outside. There is so much to do in this city that I have yet to experience.

Days like today make me somewhat forget that it's still Lent. This is Easter weather, not Lent weather! But then again, why do I think that everything about Lent must be about suffering? We still have to live our lives as they are, and that does not mean going about the day passing up laughter and joy.

Today simply feels different... in a good way. This morning I had chapel time with the kids from The Learning Center, and while it has never been my favorite thing to do at the parish, the children always bring a smile to my face. It always feels nice to have it done with for the month as well. This afternoon I decided to rearrange the top of my desk and after doing so I felt like I had more energy and I was happy. What, happy at work!? In the afternoon I usually get super tired and my eyelids start to droop when I read things, but not today! Hopefully that "fresh desk feeling" will last the rest of the week.

I also thought about Lent and how I haven't been doing the absolute best with this blog. A friend decided to blog on the daily mass readings while I decided to pick something inconsistent and unplanned to blog about. Maybe it's ok if these Lenten blog posts aren't always based on something I read, but rather, a mere reflection of the day. That was the part my spiritual director really liked, that I was taking time out to reflect. Does it really matter if it is about a specific book and what stuck out to me? I was reading the Diary of St. Faustina this afternoon and it was all about despair. Sorry, but at this point in my life, I cannot relate to those specific writings.

A lot is going on right now, and amidst the busyness of work, school, and relationships, the most important thing is to always remember that I am in the holy presence of God. He is the life I breathe and the love I give, the support I need and the love I seek.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Our Mentor for Life

Last week was quite the busy week! The two Echo apprentices who were before me at my parish flew in to hold a surprise dinner for our mentor. This is the last year that she will be mentoring, partially due to our diocese not renewing the program. We wanted to honor her for all she has (and still is) teaching us and simply for being an important part of our lives in the two years we each have spent at St. Andrew's. It was a surprise dinner, she had no idea! She simply thought that our director of liturgy and music was taking her out to eat to spend some quality time together. Alice was shocked and the night was amazing.

Wednesday night was also the first time that all three of us have been together at the same time. Words cannot describe how awe-inspiring it is to have a shared experience of a mentor-apprentice relationship with Alice. What was really beautiful was hearing about what the other apprentices learned from Alice and how their time at the parish still affects their lives today. I have yet to experience this, since I am still an apprentice, but I hope to be able to reflect, for years to come, on the many words of wisdom from Alice. She is, after all, our mentor for life.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Yes or No?

Lent seems to become a time when we are confronted with the word "no." We fast and we give up things and we have to tell ourselves "no" when the temptation arises to forego our Lenten "resolutions." But why are we telling ourselves "no?" Hopefully it is because we're telling God "yes." At the end of Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen has a beautiful quote:

God not only says: "You are my Beloved." God also asks: "Do you love me?" and offers us countless chances to say "Yes." That is the spiritual life: the chance to say "Yes" to our inner truth... And at every point of the journey there is the choice to say "Yes" and the choice to say "No."

We try to say "yes" to God in many areas of our lives, especially when we are trying to discern His will us. I think we can answer "yes" to God's question of loving Him in various ways, through our words and actions, without realizing it - but how many times during the day are we conscious of this question and of our answer?

In 1962, The Contours asked the same question, but perhaps to a different beat...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's About Us

This past weekend our parish held its annual Lent retreat. It takes place on a Friday night and continues Saturday morning and concludes with the vigil mass. Our retreat director this year was a priest who works in a city close to Fort Worth. I have heard him on two separate occasions and I always find his words so inspirational and I find, within myself, a deeper desire to grow in relationship with our Lord. He is a phenomenal story teller, but those are just stories that often lead the audience to laugh.

At the heart of his talk, he wants us to realize that we are Christ's. We are his ambassadors and we are citizens of the kingdom of God. This isn't our world and this isn't the language we truly speak. God doesn't choose the prepared, He prepares those He chooses. We are chosen. We are the beloved. Are we acting like we are, though? Honestly, how is our prayer life? Are we seeing Christ in others as well? We have to see Jesus within ourselves before we can even begin to recognize him in those around us.

These are just ramblings... it's difficult to put into words how Fr. Hector's words touched my heart. One simple phrase that I will take away from the retreat is: God is so excellent. Would you like to know why? Because He didn't have to wake me up this morning.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday's Reflection

Last night I finished the section on "giving" in Henri Nouwen's book, but that isn't what has been on my mind lately. In my prayer last night I started to reflect on how I've been annoyed and angered easily as of late. My mentor at the parish said she thinks Lent is an easy time to succomb to those times - we're also going out into the desert and what better place to be tempted and lose our sight of God than this time we're supposed to focus on Him all the more. I was going to blog about all of this last night, but...I fell asleep. I probably needed it, plus it was for the better! Today as I was reading a friend's blog I read this awesome article on preparing for the sacrament of penance, but it was also concerned with what I was reflecting on last night - going past the external things and digging deeper into the root of our issues.

This morning as I was driving I reminded myself that today I was going to choose love and kindness over being annoyed, frustrated, and angry. After all, this life isn't about me and having things my way. It's about God and doing things His way.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Today's Short Post

The new Catechism for Adults if broken up into chapters and each one ends with a meditation. The one for the first chapter is taken from book 10 of The Confessions by St. Augustine. He professes his deep love for God in this meditation. He also says, "You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness." These words were used by Matt Maher in his song Alive Again, which is fantastic. I think it's pretty applicable to Lent as well. Take a listen and reflect on it for yourself. :)

Sunday's Reflection

"We are chosen, blessed, and broken so as to be given."

"True joy, happiness, and inner peace come from the giving of ourselves to others."

"I think that our deepest human desire is to give ourselves to each other as a source of physical, emotional, and spiritual growth."

Nouwen has it right again! Sometimes we think that we have nothing to give others, but we forget about the gift of our own lives. We can give of ourselves in so many ways, and it's not just of our money and material possessions. I mean the true gift of self, of who we are, uniquely created and gifted to be. We can share our joys but we can also share our sorrows.

As the Beloved of Christ, he gave us his everything. All three Persons of the Trinity are life-giving. The Father gives us life and He also gives us beautiful gifts of creation and nature. Jesus gave us his life and gave us salvation. The Spirit gives us so many gifts! We only need to ask... or do we? Grace is a free gift and we don't do a single thing to merit it. Amazing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Media Break

Alright, this post isn't really related to Lent, but I wanted to give a shout out for two CDs I bought last night. I was at LifeWay and they had TobyMac's new cd on sale AND Francesca Battistelli's album for $5. What a steal. I've been a fan of TobyMac for quite some time, always intrigued by his hip hop beats and his lyrics. His albums continue to impress and the newest always seems better than the last. On his latest album, "Tonight," he has familiar sounds from previous CDs, but I'd say he has branched out in his music as well, ever growing in his creativity.

The first time I heard Francesca Battistelli on the radio I really liked her song "Free to be Me." I've heard several of her songs since then, but I was really digging her entire album, "My Paper Heart," when I was listening to it in the car today. It's neat when albums actually hold a theme to the music, and Francesca does just that. Her music is catchy and her lyrics are very relevant to the lives that we live today and becoming who we are called to be.

I'd post a video for Tobymac's City on our Knees, but because it's still new, I can't embed that particular video, but here is one from Francesca.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Little Black Book

The Scripture verse today in my little black book (lenten reflection booklet) was taken from Mark 14:3 and it is about the woman in Bethany who anoints the head of Jesus with expensive oil. Placing myself into the story, I think I would have been really nervous, anointing the head of my Savior. But maybe the woman didn't know exactly who Jesus was... or did she? She came to him, freely giving a gift that was costly. Are we willing to bring our treasure to the Lord?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Life of the Beloved

I am a Henri Nouwen fan. I now have several of his books but I've never actually finished one. I'm quite terrible at finishing books, unless it's fiction and I need to know how it will be resolved. I guess that is part of why I want to incorporate more spiritual reading into my Lenten journey. For the past two months I have been working on Nouwen's Life of the Beloved. It's a very simple book that focuses on us, the beloved children of God, and how we can be, become, and live as the beloved. Becoming the beloved involves being "taken, blessed, broken, and given." I'm currently reading on being broken.

We're all broken and we all know we're broken. Nowen says we are alone in our brokenness: each human being suffers in a way no other human being suffers. I can't say I've ever thought of that before. We always try to find ways to comfort the broken and afflicted and people try to comfort us by trying to be empathic. Just because I have lost grandparents to death does not mean that I will fully understand the pain that you may go through when one day you (whoever you are) lose a grandparent.

I think we try to hide and cover up our brokenness. "Everything is ok," "I'll be alright," "Oh, don't worry about me." And we never like to cry in front of people. At least I don't, and I'm sure there are others who feel the same. Last night Jeremy and I were playing racquetball. After our water break we began our second game and I was serving. The ball went behind me and I turned around to watch Jeremy hit it. I saw it alright, I saw the ball coming right at me and it hit my left cheek (I thank God it did not hit my eye). Jeremy came over and asked if I was alright and I simply started crying. Yes, it hurt, but I think I was more in shock and I think I cried for all the times I didn't cry. If I was with others I probably would have tried to pass it off and said "I'll be alright," but I told Jeremy that we should go back and ice it. Maybe the icing did help, but this morning I was almost surprised to see that I did not have a bruise on my face, it was only a tiny bit red. So yes, I probably would have been fine last night and could have kept playing, after getting over the shock of being hit, but I let my brokenness out and it felt good.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

From Beads to Ashes

I walked into the office this morning just in time to catch the children from The Learning Center parading around in their masks and handing out beads. I immediately received four beaded necklaces from the little ones - what can I say, I'm loved! I also have the biggest beaded necklace with a plastic mask on it hanging from the corner of my door. Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday. A strange "holiday." You only celebrate it for the duration of one day. You don't really want to decorate for it early and you certainly don't want to leave your mardi gras things hanging up because the next day is Ash Wednesday and I can imagine the comedian, Jim Gaffigan, saying "that would be inappropriate."

So today I'm wearing brightly colored beads around my neck and tomorrow I'll be fasting and starting my Lenten resolutions. Is "resolution" even the right word to use? Well anyway, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. In a previous blog post I mentioned giving up coffee, and while I would still like to follow through with that one to the best of my ability, I had a revelation last night (or this morning?) about something better that I could do: wake up when my alarm goes off and NOT hit the snooze button. I used to be so good about not hitting "snooze" all throughout college, but this past year hasn't been the best for that. I've been praying a lot about what I should do for Lent and I really want to strengthen my relationship with Jesus. I think it has fallen to the wayside at times within the last year and a half and I want that to turn around. How will not hitting snooze help me with this you might ask? If I can get up earlier and actually get out of bed, then I can make time in the morning for some prayerful reading and reflection. Of course I want to increase the amount of silent prayer, but I'd also like to do more spiritual reading.

So here's the thing: I want to read from Scriptures or another spiritual book (ones that I have already started). In order for that reading to become something more to me and not just words I'm reading for the sake of reading, I will blog about them. It may only be a couple sentences or perhaps it will extend to several paragraphs. Whatever the case, daily blogging will keep me accountable. Disciple is hard, but it has to start somewhere and sometime...

Monday, February 15, 2010


Today I watched an interesting little video about "moments." Technically, a moment is 90 seconds. I didn't know that... but who really watches the clock when they reference a moment. How do you "live in the moment" when your focus is on time? This video seems to be saying that everything is a "moment." Some moments are insignificant, others change the course of our lives. I don't think we're even aware of most of the moments in our lives. We take pictures to "capture the moment" - either we're obsessed with remembering things or we're obsessed with seeing ourselves (let's be honest, those insignificant pictures are always posted on facebook). Don't get me wrong, I enjoy taking pictures and I like to look back over them to remember the good times, but sometimes we really do just need to simply live in the moment, not worry about fiddling with our camera, checking our email or text messages on our phone, and enjoy the present and the presence of those around us.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Lent is coming up soon (two weeks and a day) and already I have decided to give up coffee. Scary, I know, but I figured this would be very sacrificial for me! So far I've gone without it today, but I'm starting to lag a little bit. Mmm water. Nope, just doesn't have the same taste or effect of coffee! So, in light of my coffee free day, so far, here are some great coffee pictures.

And quite a scandalous one I found:

Monday, February 1, 2010

Unexpected Grace

We suspect the obvious
with the drone of the day distracting our thoughts,
lost in our daily routines,
bound by normalcy and the dullness of sleep,
until we are awaken by the Spirit,
embraced by freedom and love,
love dancing to unheard music in the soul
like the flicker of a flame,
enlightening our hearts, our own love,
to the Master's love.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Evolving Ministry

Over the years I have done plenty of research, gathered resources, and have given a plethora of talks at various events, such as retreats, religious ed classes, or praise and worship nights at college. I loved giving these talks and sharing my inspirations and I've been reflecting on that as of late. Not so much my past talks, but ones I have done recently and how I can continue to better my ministry. I can easily say that ministry builds on ministry. I have presented the same Confirmation session (on Scripture and the Holy Spirit) for two consecutive years, but this year's class simply rocked! I took elements from the class I did last year, but I've learned more and I've grown in my own faith, and this was what was presented to the students.

Faith formation needs to hold hands with story telling. Stories are everywhere; from simple nursery rhymes to Dr. Suess to #1 Best Sellers to our own experiences. People are inspired by stories, they thrive on a good story. Stories captivate people and can be used for sheer pleasure or to teach a lesson. I want to get better at story telling, and to do that I need to be more aware of the happenings of my life and of those around me. We often take for granted the simple things of each day, but it is our lived experiences and stories that can lead another soul closer to God.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why Them?

Wow, there I was, typing my last blog post and focusing inward and on the "self" and here is a country tortured by Mother Nature, crying out in pain, and desperately looking for hope. I am amazed at the response to the earthquake in Haiti; people are updating their facebook status, blogging on it, and simply praying for this country and its people. In a world that is self-centered, it is a beautiful thing to see so many reaching out with their hearts, hands, and yes, even their wallets. If I could, I would love to go down there and help, but my own funds are tight and I wouldn't have the slightest idea of how to get involved. So I made a donation to Catholic Relief Services instead. I cannot imagine Fort Worth in crumbles all around, with limited food and water, so much junk to clear, and inadequate shelter. But of course, here in the states, we have money to quickly remove things and rebuild. How blessed we are and how quickly we forget. May God be with all those who have died, who are injured, and the survivors who are still surviving.

Wrestling with God

Working on this Confirmation talk has led me to write a second blog post inspired by my preparation. The students receive a handout at each session, so today I was reading the front page and was struck by one sentence:
From our ancestor Jacob we learn that we must wrestle with God and struggle with ourselves to become the persons we want to be.

The story of Jacob wrestling with God is quite interesting and is found in Genesis 32:24-30. Jacob and an unnamed man wrestle all night long, but Jacob kept his strength and prevailed against the man. It is at the end of this fight that Jacob's name is changed to Israel and he is blessed by the "man." How many times have we wrestled with something and have given up, not having the courage, like that of Jacob, to continue?

I cannot say that I have "wrestled" with God, but I can say I have struggled with things and questioned God about them, crying out "why me?" Sometimes it feels like we cannot do anything about the struggles that we face, such as experiencing the death of a loved one or being extremly tired of being single. We struggle in our hearts to face the reality of events and how to cope with our emotions. We need to face our own struggles and not become passive about life, sweeping hurtful events under the rug. Of course, we also have to continue on with our lives at the same time. If we don't figure out how to struggle and cope with things, then who is the person we are becoming?

In our world today that is filled with so many distractions and pressures to be strong and keep our lives to ourselves it is easy to dismiss our lives. We're so wrapped up in the struggles of others, especially the ones the media portrays as significant, and we forget our own lives. We're human, it's ok to cry.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Love is not a feeling, love is a choice.

Who will you choose to love today?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


In a couple of weeks I will be presenting at a Confirmation session on Scripture and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. As I was preparing a bit for this talk I was reading a resource that discussed "engaging the senses" in faith formation. It used art as an example, and I thought of the St. John's Bible. It is the first hand-written, illuminiated Bible in over 500 years, and it was done in Minnesota! I think I'll use this image with the high school students. It's an interpretation of the creation of the world.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Add-on for the Day

Just saw this on another blog, thought I'd share it here, too!

hat tip to the Ironic Catholic

Happy New Year

This morning I walked into my office at the parish and everything appeared normal at first. It's always nice to see a clean desk! But then I noticed something different. Upon my clean desk, tucked in by my computer, I found a little dark blue teddy bear. Ok, well that's not so weird, you might think. Someone in the office left me a surprise gift. Well, on his chest is a year, and it's not 2010! In gold stitching it reads, "2000." Why would someone give another person a bear that is ten years old!? I'm not offended or upset, it certainly was a sweet gesture, but also very odd.

Recently I've been thinking about that time period between 2000 and 2010. I've heard a lot of mention of this past decade, and on Saturday morning I definitely stayed in bed listening to the American Top 40 countdown. Turns out Usher's "Yeah" was the number one song of the decade. Who would have thought?!

This past decade has probably been one of the most influential ones for me: it encompasses all of my major schooling, from high school to my Master's degree. And I must say, I believe these years are the ones when we are most formed into who we are and who we become. Of course we cannot disregard our childhood and upbringing, but high school and college were the places were I certainly had my fun, but also my struggles, and I grew into the woman I am today. The year 2000 does not seem like it was that long ago, but it really was!

I thought I'd have more to reflect on, but I went to a meeting and lost it all. Oh well! Today I've been listening to the band A Fine Frenzy, and I really enjoy them! Check them out!