Monday, December 17, 2012

Joy Amid Tragedy?

Up until yesterday, I didn't have time to sit down and really reflect on what happened on Friday. My excuse is that I was busy and didn't have time to read the details of the story. All I knew was that there was a school shooting and the victims were innocent children who were 6 and 7 years old. Tragic and sad? Yes. But why read more and reflect on it if I'll get sad in return? And that is exactly one of the many problems we have in this country.

Our deacon talked about it at the end of his homily on Sunday, and that's when it really struck me. 27 lives taken right before Christmas. Their families can't get them back. Their families will be suffering grief and mourning the loss of their loved ones while the rest of the world celebrates this usually joyful time. And I thought to myself, how crazy that this happened right before Gaudete Sunday...the Sunday of Advent when we're supposed to be rejoicing and focusing on joy and the coming of Christ. And the songs we sang at Mass today were about God's goodness. Good can come from anything...but it will be difficult to find the good in this.

After an event with middle school youth, I finally sat down at my computer at work and read up on the tragic events of last Friday. I became teary eyed thinking about all of it and also hearing about the brave teachers and administrators of the school. They are certainly martyrs. The reality of the event slowly started to sink in. After getting into my car and driving, I just wanted to cry, but held back for my safety on the road and for my trip to the grocery store. I didn't want to look at people, but I did and offered a smile, and everyone smiled back. Small signs of hope and joy.

We can choose to let it affect us or we can choose to ignore it, and I think all too often people choose the latter. It's what I did at first, but then I remembered that we're all connected and if we don't let this break our hearts, then what will? We cannot become complacent in the world we live in, staying inside of our own little bubble and thinking things can't/won't affect us. But we can't hide. We cannot become emotionless robots. Change only comes when we love, not when we fight and argue over rights and who is to blame. Our world is lacking in love, and it all begins at home. Unfortunately tragedies will happen, whether from nature or mentally ill individuals, but we have to come together as one human race for comfort and to find peace once again.

"At dusk weeping comes for the night; but at dawn there is rejoicing...You changed my mourning into dancing." Psalm 30:6, 12

"Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy." John 16:20

God has made promises to us through His written word. "Joy" appears numerous times throughout Scripture, even paired with mourning. We can keep faith and take hope in these words and promises. Life is difficult, no one ever said it would be easy, but if we seek it out and seek God, we can experience joy.

Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May their souls and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Below is a poem I found on Facebook:

Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38,
When 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"This is heaven," declared a small boy. "We're spending Christmas at God's house."
When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
But Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then he opened His arms and He called them by name.
And in that moment was joy that only heaven can bring.
Those children all flew into the arms of their King.
And as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
One small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of Mom and Dad."
Then He looked down on earth, the world far below,
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe.
Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let my power and presence re-enter this land!"
"May this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"Come now my children, let me show you around."
Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran,
All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"In the midst of the darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Awesome Video about Mary

The folks at Busted Halo have done it again! I love their videos and their newest is "Mary in 2 Minutes."
Check it out!

Monday, November 12, 2012

JPII on Prayer

Last week a new (rather, new to me) quote from Bl. John Paul II was brought to my attention, and now I'm slightly obsessed with the quote because it is so true:
"Every day dedicate some time to conversing with God. This is a sincere proof of your love for Him, for love always seeks to be near the beloved. This is why prayer should be put before everything else. Whoever does not understand this, or does not put it into practice, cannot excuse himself by saying he has no time; he has no love."
Bl. JPII, Homily on April 7, 1987
It makes perfect sense! And those words also hit home; how many days have I gone through the motions without taking time to stop for prayer? Or think that because I went to daily mass,  I'm set for the rest of the day? I am not a morning person, so the thought of prayer right when I wake up isn't really processed by my brain... but after reading that quote I've been starting off my mornings with some prayers of gratitude and intercessions. Faith and keeping up our prayer life can be difficult especially in our world that is driven by "being busy" with everything. And working for the Church doesn't always help either because I plan lessons and prayers and am surrounded by Catholic stuff all day, that I just want to crash and relax when I get home, not feel like I'm doing work. I know other youth ministers feel the same way... which is why it's so important to remember these words of JPII and ground ourselves in prayer and in that love relationship that God desires of us.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Have we lost Courage?

Today I had a high school bible study and we read Acts 3-4. We discussed a variety of things concerning those chapters (and the previous ones), but in the end we focused on courage and being bold in our faith. After Peter and John were arrested for proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, I'm sure a lot of followers were fearful they, too, would be arrested. So they all prayed for boldness in faith and in preaching it.

I asked the group who or what is an image of courage for them, and they didn't have many answers... have our youth become complacent to what real courage is? Heck, courage in general? Do they not have anyone in their lives who stand up for something, or do they just not realize courage when they see it? The first two people who come to mind for me are my brother and my friend John, who both served in the military and did tours in Iraq. I have high regard for our brothers and sisters serving in the military. But even praying outside of Planned Parenthood clinics is an act of courage. Those who defend the faith do so courageously.

When asked what they could do to be more courageous, one high school senior said that nothing comes to mind because today we aren't asked to die for our faith. He mentioned it's only little things we do. He didn't realize that even doing those little things can be seen as acts of courage (until I mentioned it to the group). We did talk about praying before meals out in public; about half the group does so on occasion. It is in the little things that we can be courageous. Heck, sometimes I feel that even wearing my cross and miraculous medal around my neck is an act of faith that some might look down on.

How do we teach this generation about courage? We listened to the song "Courageous" by Casting Crowns, and the lyrics that stick out to me are: We were warriors on the front lines, standing unafraid, but now we're watchers on the sidelines, while our families slip away. We have forgotten the real reason for Church and worship and I know I even have times of complacency in my own life. It's time to be courageous.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The New Kid

As another year of Sunday Night Youth Group starts up we are blessed to have a new group of youth, as well as our returning students, join us on a faith journey. And similar to most youth groups, some youth want and choose to be there while others are coerced or forced to attend by their parents. The youth in the latter group often open up eventually and start to have a good time, while others continue to sit in the sand on the shore, refusing to get their feet wet by the tide.

This year we have two brothers who are new to the program. One is a freshman and the other is a sophomore. Turns out their parents recently went through a divorce and they changed/transferred parishes. The younger brother seems content with being at youth group and is talkative with new people. The older brother...he's a different story. For the sake of this (public) blog, we'll call him Jonah, because I'm sure the only thing he wanted to do on the first night was run in the opposite direction.

Our first youth group was three weeks ago. Jonah sat by himself at a corner table with his arms crossed. If you asked him any questions, he would only shake or nod his head. We played some games and did ice breakers that night, but since there were 40 other youth present, I don't know how much Jonah participated. When the night was over I wasn't sure if he had a learning disability or if he just really didn't want to be there. As you already know, it was the latter. I wanted to make it my personal mission to break him. Ok, not in a bad way, but to make him feel welcome and to get him to realize that we want him at youth group.

Week two rolls around and Jonah, once again, sat at that corner table. During "gathering time" I approached him in another attempt to strike up a conversation. I asked about his week but didn't get much of a response. Then I told him I liked the cross he was wearing. He said "thanks." Then I asked where he got it from and he told me the parish they were previously at gave it to him as a going away gift. I was so amazed that he spoke that I became the speechless one. I was ecstatic! At the end of the night we learned that the small group that Jonah was in got him to laugh. Another joyous occasion!

I don't know all the details, but I think his mom told him to try out youth group and if he didn't like it at all, then he wouldn't have to keep going. Well he came back last night for our third week. This time I was at the sign-in table and greeted him with a big smile. We also did something different...we split all the youth into groups and asked that they go to their assigned table right away for dinner (instead of eating with the same people they always eat with). We want the youth to get to know each other better and we think it worked quite well. Jonah actually went to his assigned table (and asked where it was). I don't know how involved he was in the meal conversation, but I'd like to hope he was involved a bit. During Br. Ron's talk, Jonah was very engrossed in the story about St. Joseph of Cupertino. I had Jonah in my small group for the discussion questions. I couldn't get a response from my questions except for head nods, shakes, and shrugs. But once we started talking about Homecoming words came out of his mouth. I also found out he likes baseball. At the end of the night I thanked him for coming and told him I was glad he came out. I also made just a random comment, "oh, that's where your name tag is!" (since it was on his pants and not his shirt) and he actually smiled. On the inside I definitely looked like this:

So then I was thinking...I'm trying to make Jonah feel extremely welcomed and that he is wanted here at youth group...but we should be doing that for every youth! In small ways we do, but we should go out-of-the-way for every youth, not just those who don't want to be there. Youth are looking for community and for a place to belong. We should be welcoming each and every youth and thanking them for coming and telling them that we are happy they came out that night. I do a general "thank you, glad you came" thing, but we need to personalize it. I'll be sharing these reflections with the youth group team and I hope that together we can put fort an amazing effort at making each youth feel like they are wanted there on Sunday nights, whether they already know it or not. While it helps to have awesome lessons, fun games, and engaging praise and worship, sometimes the most important things at youth group are the small things: feeling welcomed, laughter at a joke, bonding that happens over dinner. By creating a safe space for our youth, we'll get them to come back and to eventually open up.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Salute To Our Troops

Lately I've been reflecting on how our current troops and veterans are under-appreciated. I used to never give a second thought to our military men and women except on holidays honoring them. But then my brother joined the National Guard and he was sent to Iraq. I know what he did over there in general, but I'll never know the full effects of his tour there. And recently I've become great friends with a guy who was a Navy Corpsman and also served with the Marine Corps. He did three tours in Iraq and while he's more open to talking about it than my brother, there's still so much myself and others simply will not understand. And he even said he's just now realizing that.

I can't justly compare it to my time in Echo, but there are similarities in that only the 17 of us in Echo 5 will understand our bond and love and all the crazy things we experienced in our two years of the program. Even if some stories are shared about our troops overseas, we will never understand. And unfortunately, those effects of their service run deep. Our veterans are struggling when they come back, and knowing and caring about two of them breaks my heart thinking about their hardships.

Yes, sometimes I question the reasons for our US presence overseas, and yes, these men and women freely choose to enter the military now and know of the chances of going and serving a tour in the Middle East. But despite your own opinion on our military and the wars we're fighting, these men and women risk their lives and livelihood. And coming back home they risk the chance of ever having a normal life. I'm not trying to say we should "feel bad" for our veterans; what I'm trying to convey is that we all need to be more understanding and respectful of them. And thank them often.

Even those who are still in the military here in the states continue to serve their country with right duty and honor. The other day I came across a story about a marine who stood guard at the hospital room of a dying 12-year-old boy. That is honor. That is a true hero. That is what it means to be an American. Yet so many people have lost that... You can find the full story here:

At Country Jam, a three day music festival in my hometown, the country music artists did a great job of honoring and saluting our troops. They gave them shout outs, had them on camera, even brought them up on the stage at times. And Trace Adkins played one of his newer songs, Semper Fi, a song honoring the Marines. After the song, my brother said it didn't do justice to what the Marines actually do for our country. I think it's still great that they still write songs like that though.

To all those who have served, are serving, and will serve our country in one of the branches of the military, thank you. I don't say it enough and I don't pray for you all enough, but I hope to start doing so now.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Recognizing Volunteers

I always knew it was important to recognize our volunteers, no matter what sort of organization you're a part of, but I didn't realize the full impact until a couple weekends ago.

Every summer we attend DCYC, our Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference. Throughout the weekend awards are given out to youth and adults who have committed their time to youth ministry at their parish. Last year I didn't give any awards to my parish youth, so this year I decided to do so. Three went to high school youth who have been very involved in youth group this past year; they're always reliable and want to do more. I also gave a "Light of the World" award to one of my chaperones, a mom who has been a great help with my middle school youth ministry. Earlier in the summer I thought of giving her a gift card as a thanks for all she has done, but I think this award meant way more.

When her name was called out on Sunday morning, she was so surprised! She said she was going to cry because she was so honored. I don't think she did, but I was fighting back tears of joy at seeing how happy she was. I have been so blessed to have her support and volunteer time, but I probably didn't show my appreciation enough. That morning was definitely a reminder of the importance of recognizing and appreciating our volunteers. They do things because they want to and would volunteer even without recognition, but we still need to show our gratitude. Without our volunteers we wouldn't be able to do anything! So from the bottom of my heart, whether you volunteer at a church or different organization, thank you for all you do.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Last week I saw the new Disney/Pixar movie "Brave." The only thing I knew about the film beforehand was that it is not your typical princess movie. The wild-haired protagonist  wasn't looking for a prince charming, rather she sought out independence and freedom. Now I'm a fan of "traditional princess" movies, but I gave this a shot and thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

Here's a great review of the movie by a Word on Fire contributing author. There are some spoiler alerts, so be aware, but it has great lessons in it and I will definitely use this for a youth night some time!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Faithful Simplicity

Today a Catholic Update article was placed in all of our mailboxes at the parish titled "Faithful Simplicity" by Susan K. Rowland. I wish I had received this a couple of weeks ago, then maybe I wouldn't have wore myself out and given myself a cold from being busy and stressed out!

The author talks about how the topic of "simplicity" has become quite popular over the years, which shows that our lives have become far too busy and complicated. Isn't that the truth! I can admit that even I love articles about organizing or "simplifying" my life!

"We cannot have outer simplicity in our homes and schedules without inner simplicity. And, if we are at peace inside, if we lean on and learn to trust God for our needs, our outer lives will reflect that."

Rowland gives five tips for simplifying:

1. "Start by keeping a simple, 15-minute, morning prayer appointment with God." I always have intentions of doing this, but my morning always seems to slip away from me. I'd like to actually try, perhaps it's best to have accountability prayer partners for this!

2. Find out what "faithful simplicity" means to you. In the article she listed questions to help people try to figure it out, such as: having less clutter around the house? less to do? buying less? getting your finances under control? going out less and enjoying relaxation at home more? seeing friends and family you have been too busy to fit in? saying no to things you don't care to do?

3. "Ask a friend to help you clear your clutter...then reciprocate by doing the same at your friend's home." They'd have to be a really good friend to help out with something like that!

4. "Start a stream-of-consciousness journal...writing about your emotional issues gets a lot of anger and confusion out of your head and onto a harmless piece of paper. Writing about your worries is a great life-simplier. This exercise can help you clarify problems, or it may simply allow you to vent and let go of anger." I'm a big fan of journaling, it definitely helps me see how I overreact but also lets me see how I've grown over the years.

5. "Get rid of old projects...give these things away to a thrift store or toss them out." Some people are great about finishing every project they start...others, like me, aren't the best! I always want to finish things, maybe if I just had more time! :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What's Your Habit?

Today I finally got around to reading the Spring issue of Church Life, an online magazine put out by the Institute for Church Life through Notre Dame. I haven't finished all the articles (I got caught up watching cute YouTube videos like this one). What I did read was a great article on prayer by Larry Cunningham. He was one of the professors I had during my summers at Notre Dame for Echo.

One line that stuck out to me was, "For the Christian, prayer is not a discrete act done now and again. It is a way of life." How many times do we make it a single act done once in awhile, perhaps when things are rough? It is difficult forming the habit of prayer, but once we do it, we come into the act of "remembering God" easily and keep Him at the forefront of our minds and hearts.

Larry gave these practical tips for developing the habit of prayer:

  1. Begin each day by remembering God and asking for grace for that day.
  2. Cultivate the spirit of gratitude for the gifts we have received.
  3. Remember others, especially those in need, and "lift them up" before God.
  4. One small gesture is to sign ourselves with the sign of the cross; it is both an act of faith in the Holy Trinity and a prayer which says that we do all things "in the Name."

On the first day of the summer class I had with Larry, he told us the simple act of remembering God was prayer itself. I was definitely a fan of that statement! Sometimes it's the simple things that will lead us into habits. Another youth minister I know would tell people to begin the day by quoting from one of the psalms: "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad." On days I don't want to get out of bed, that simple sentence helps motivate me to get up and start my day.

I know I've mentioned the Liturgy of the Hours before on this's something I used to do all the time in college, but I also had my friends to keep me accountable in praying it with them. It's more difficult when you don't have that community to pray with (in physical terms, of course we are never alone in our prayer). It's definitely one of my favorite forms of prayer because it brings peace to my day, whether it's morning, evening, or night. Here's to starting that habit again and making prayer a way of life!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What is Normal?

Today during Mass, one of my prayers was "God, can you please help my life return back to normal?" But then I realized I wasn't sure what that meant! Are our lives normal? Can they ever be normal? If we're truly living them to the fullest, it seems not. But then again...what is normal? For some, doing crazy things like climbing mountains or white water rafting are normal! As a single woman in her mid-twenties, I don't think I have reached "normal" yet. Things change so often: situations with my job, friends, even my weekly schedule. Maybe change is normal and I simply have to pray for guidance and wisdom to sort through all of it.

And then again, maybe I don't want "normal" because that's when things can become boring...and who wants that!?

Just some thoughts for today...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

10 Reasons I'm a Youth Minister (in Texas)

Sometimes we all need to remind ourselves of the reasons why we're in the jobs we are, whether it is your first choice job or your last choice. There are positives in everything. Here are ten reasons why I'm a youth minister. There are probably more, but I thought I'd start somewhere. And they are in no particular order!

1. Salary: Despite what some people think, I am paid for my job! I know it's not true across the country, but at least in Texas one can make a living and get all those bills paid.

2. Never go hungry: There always seems to be food around! All too often it's junk food and should be avoided, but it's there. Today, some breakfast leftovers from Friday turned into my lunch. Plus as a youth minister I always have a stash of snacks for youth group.

3. Conference Opportunities: My parish pays for me to attend awesome conferences, like the recent NCCL I attended in San Diego and the upcoming NCCYM in Orlando! The conferences motivate me, fire me up, get me networking with others across the country, and I get to see new sites.

4. It's what I love: I get to do what's most important to me, living out and sharing my faith. 'Nuff said.

5. Flexible schedule: While I do have to work some nights and weekends, I also get the luxury of sleeping in the days I work until 8 or 9pm. And Fridays and Saturdays are my off-days. Sometimes I wish I had a 9-5 job...but I don't think I'd be very happy there.

6. "My kids": I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I love working with high school students (and middle school is growing on me). They constantly remind me why I do what I do, and I love laughing with them. Today (on Mother's day) one of my teens said something about being pretty sure I'm not a mom, and I said the only "kids" I have are those in youth group!

7. Wonderful co-workers: They have my back and I've got theirs. We are the only ones who knows the true ins and outs of our parish life and we're there to vent to one another, but also to support and build up each other. And since I'm the youngest, sometimes they act like motherly figures, which I don't mind too often.

8. Never a dull moment: There's always something to work on, from publicity to planning, calendaring events to meetings, I do it all! It's also very overwhelming at times, but I cannot say I have a boring job. Some weeks it's like I have 10 jobs: Teacher, athletics director, web developer, publicity marketer, human relations, human resources, secretary, the list could go on...

9. Chance to be creative: Whether it's in lessons, talks, or bake sales, I love being creative in what I do and how I present things. I'm always up for trying new things in youth group.

10. I had a great youth minister when I was in high school and she is the reason why I wanted to become one. She nurtured the relationships she had with us, shared her faith, and taught us the important things about being Catholic and praying. That's what I want to do for the youth here and I believe I have a really good start. Thank you, Mary! You were a true inspiration!

High School youth group team 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sun, Sand, and NCCL

This past week I attended NCCL - the National Conference of Catechetical Leaders - hence, the lack of posts. I have so much to think about, it's ridiculous. Especially how we can integrate the "modern world" into our faith lives (let's face it, everybody is already there and 5 steps ahead of the technology that parishes use), but at the same time, give them experiences of Christ.

I was able to get to the beach in San Diego one afternoon - wow, was it ever peaceful! It was nice to relax, but now I'm getting super stressed again. I think after this Sunday I'll be able to calm down and reflect on the conference more. This Sunday I'm selling roses after all the Masses as a fundraiser, but I haven't gotten many takers from teens to help out yet...oy.

I'll post more later, just wanted to give an update!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Terrific Tuesday!

Today was an awesome day!

First of all, I finished the Hunger Games trilogy at 3:45am. I wasn't the biggest fan of how it ended, but it's alright. The books were fabulous and I feel as if I didn't do them justice since I whipped through them so fast because I always wanted to find out what happened next!

Bible study was fun; we didn't read the bible today, I let them talk about their weekend. Sometimes 8th grade girls just need to talk and an adult who listens. :)

There was a Groupon for Rangers tickets today, so I've got another game scheduled to go to! I bought tickets for 5 other friends and myself. I'm super pumped for May 15th!

And then at the grocery store, the cashier pegged me for a senior in college, until he saw my drivers license I had to pull out for the $5 wine I bought. That always makes a girl feel good!

Tonight is the first time in awhile that I have all to myself and I'm excited for the night in! I'm pumped to make dinner (my own version of chicken cacciatore) and to go on my run. Probably run first, and then dinner. Currently I'm contemplating the idea of taking a quick nap first, I was falling asleep at my laptop earlier! Three hours of sleep isn't very much to run your day on...oh well!

It's been a great day with a relaxing evening in sight. Just thought I'd share! :)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nouwen on Writing

Things have been a little hectic, but now that the 7th grade Leadership retreat is done and tonight is the last official youth group session until the Fall, things should be winding down for the summer (whatever the heck that means for youth ministry!). So anyway, posts have been a little sparse. But today I simply want to share a quote from Henri Nouwen. I receive a daily e-mail with one of his quotes, and this was from yesterday:

Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.

Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be "redeemed" by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

National Princess Week

The Target Corporation has started a new tradition...they have created a "National Princess Week." It's kind of a neat idea, although most likely just a ploy to get dads to buy Princess things for their little girls. I know some people aren't the biggest fans of the obsession with Disney Princesses, but I think we can use it to our advantage.

In one way, with the commercialization of all the Princesses, it has led every little girl to believe she can be a princess. It doesn't matter where she grew up or what her family life is like, all she needs is a dress. Or maybe just shiny shoes. Or a simple paper crown. I had "Cinderella shoes" when I was 4; they weren't anything special, just shiny white shoes I wore for Easter! But they made me feel special.

A princess should carry herself with dignity and respect. As those little girls grow up, they lose sight of that. They trade their beautiful gowns for low-cut tops and their crowns for hook-ups with guys. What happened in-between? Were they told they could never actually be a princess? Or did they come to think the idea was silly? When I was in high school I was told I was still a princess because I am the daughter of the King of Kings. How cool is that? And today I still want to find my Prince Charming!

While Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, Cinderella, and the others all have their struggles, they do make it look easy to be a princess and fall in love with your prince. But we can look beyond the stories and fairy tales to our own lives. We don't have to give up being a princess because it's something that is only for little girls! There are a lot of positive messages we can give girls today about being a princess. It's time to write our own stories (or for the guys, help co-author them).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Why I'm Catholic: The Triduum

While the rest of the world goes about their normal weekend festivities, our Church blesses us with the holiest three days of the year and we are called to participate in the services that are so rich in tradition. These three days, the Triduum, have become a special part of my life ever since college.

Growing up I had no idea my dad attended the Holy Thursday Mass, and I didn't really know it existed. We always attended Good Friday together, and then either the Easter Vigil or Sunday morning Mass. When I was home for Easter one year, I went with my dad to the Holy Thursday Mass. It was then when I realized the holiness and power of the three days; they're not three separate liturgies, but one! How awesome is that?! And at all three we are given an intimate way of sharing in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. A reflective look at how he served others while he was here and his very purpose for coming to earth, to become a victim for us, to conquer death, so that we might have eternal life with God. Wow.

Now I will not miss these three days for anything. The Triduum, to me, is a great reminder of how we are to live our lives and who we are to live our lives for. I'll admit, I even get a bit upset when I see people posting status updates about all the "fun things" they're doing over the weekend. I want to hit them in the head and remind them of this solemn time. Ok, now granted I went to Red Lobster with some friends on Good Friday...but we still kept our meal very simple (we split everything) and we were at church for almost three hours, I think that deserves some good fellowship and food, no!?

These two songs are absolutely beautiful. Both by Matt Maher. The first one works up to the great climax of the song when he is questioning and proclaiming, "O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? O Church come stand in the light, the glory of God has defeated the night...our God is not dead, He's Alive, He's Alive!" Those words put a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. Our God is so amazing - which leads into the next song. It's about the amazing thing it was that God became man. The line that gets me in this song is, "Oh glorious, beyond all measure, bending low to wash His traitor's feet, people just like me. Why would a king do such a thing?"

Happy Easter! He is risen, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Holy Week Inspiration

Here are two videos that I find to be quite inspirational during this Holy Week. The first is the song "This Man" by Jeremy Camp and the video includes scenes from the Passion of the Christ. I had my youth group watch it on Sunday, and when I was screening it beforehand it definitely brought tears to my eyes. The movie The Passion of the Christ makes the events seem more real and the suffering more real. I hope to find time to watch the whole movie this week (if I can find my DVD). The second video is simply a song by a little known Christian group called Rend Collective Experiment (yeah, weird name). But the song is touching. Enjoy the videos and I hope they help you enter into Holy Week a little bit more.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Where's Your Weapon?

Often I have heard it said that as Catholics, our best weapon in this world is our rosary. And there must be millions and millions of rosaries in existence today! I cannot even count the number of rosaries I have had in my life. Currently I only know where three are: my car, another in my purse, and one in a dish at home. Others I have lost, misplaced, or beads have broken off of them. But no matter what, when you're Catholic, rosaries always seem to be around.

In high school a few friends and I were told to pray a decade of the rosary a day, and to pray it for our vocations. We did just that. It didn't take very long to say those 10 Hail Mary's after school each day and it united us in prayer. In college I prayed the rosary almost every day. Partly because my friends prayed it before daily Mass, and partly because I began to wear the brown scapular and devotion to Mary is one of the requirements. But since college, my prayer of the rosary has been sparse. Recently I've prayed it more, especially after my grandma passed away. She prayed the rosary at least once a day, if not more! I found that to be quite inspiring.

On Monday night a few friends and I went to a talk on the second secret of Fatima. It was a great talk and I won't go into it now...but the priest closed the talk by saying "pray the rosary daily." And in my head I thought "but that's so hard to do! It's hard to find the time for it!" Well duh! Of course it's going to be difficult! Making time for prayer in general is difficult, but if we want to grow closer in our relationship with God, it is a must. There are a ton of reasons to pray the rosary and unfortunately I don't have time to go into them! But I am making it my "goal" to pray the rosary daily, and to pray it in front of the Blessed Sacrament here at the parish. It will be "easier" to pray it during the day rather than wait until night and be too tired and forget. Certainly there will be at least a half hour when the chapel is free. There are so many things we need to pray for in our world today, and Mary will help us out if we go to her.

Monday, March 26, 2012

You Are God's Original Masterpiece

I have not had an awe-inspiring retreat experience since January 2010, the last full Echo retreat before graduation in July. But this past weekend's Confirmation retreat was amazing. Three young adults who have been helping with youth ministry at my parish put it on, and while I didn't have a specific part, I was still there to partake in the day. What a day it was. God was finally able to get through to my hard head. Yes, the road ahead will be tough. Yes, I'll still get an empty feeling in my stomach from time to time. But God is right here to carry me through. The love He has for His daughter brings tears to my eyes! I will carry on, through this difficult time and with my job.

This is a video we watched on the retreat. It is amazing. Only watch it if you have 15-20 minutes to spare (11 minutes to watch and 4-9 minutes to reflect).

There is so much in my life that I have to work on, but I don't know where to start or even what does need to be chiseled away. That is where I need to go to God. Maybe it will be in baby steps, but baby steps are better than going away from God.

This morning as I was getting ready for the day, I looked in the mirror to see Christ. And I told myself "I am God's original masterpiece." When I said it and started believing it, I had this sensation in my heart that is indescribable. We don't believe that about ourselves, but can you imagine what life would be like if we did?

Today I also made a baby step at work. I went over to the cafeteria by myself to hang out with the 6th grade class while they ate. I didn't wait for my supervisor, I just went. And as soon as I stepped foot into that loud and energetic room, two girls immediately smiled and waved at me. I felt welcomed by them! Aren't they the ones who are supposed to be welcomed by me!? As nervous as I was, I made the rounds, mostly talking about the Hunger Games. But I did it. Baby steps.

The solemnity of the Annunciation was moved to today. How often are we saying yes to God and "let Your will be done according to Your word." Ok God, let it be done! Use me to glorify Your kingdom. I'm ready!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Adoration Soothes the Soul

What a difference Adoration can make. During my hour of sitting in the presence of our Lord, I realized that I was being a bit irrational yesterday. Prayer and reflection helped me to see this and calmed me down. Last night turned out to be one of the best nights in five days! I felt so great after my high school bible study!

Aspects of my job might be more difficult than I thought, but everything in my life has lead me to where I am today and I don't think I can give up just because I'm being asked to stretch myself and get out of my comfort zone for work. While I internally freaked out about what my supervisor was saying and momentarily thought about quitting, I later realized that God's calling to us isn't necessarily about what's easy and what we don't want to do. If we're trying to follow His will, then there will be plenty of things we won't want to do. I have to continually remind myself that it's not about me, it's about Him.

I'll be posting more later, hopefully some quotes from a book I'm reading called Surrender by Fr. Larry Richards. But for now, I must get ready for our staff meeting we have in 20 minutes.

Here is a great reflection on Finding God's Will. It was posted by Fr. James Martin today and is an excerpt from his book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.

BTW, just wanted to thank you all for reading this blog and all my crazy thoughts that go with it. Feel free to leave comments whenever you would like, feedback is nice. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thoughts on "Chick Flicks" and Chivalry

Thank goodness for The Office! It was so nice being able to sit at home without thinking of being alone, laugh, and even snort-laugh at some of the things Jim and Dwight did. I think Season 3 might be my favorite season. 

Last night I ate dinner with Jeremy and Megan and we hung out at Panera Bread for 2 hours. I was also doing quite well at that time. I was able to talk a little bit about stuff, although we didn't talk much about the break up. That's ok, I just needed friends to hang out with! But when I got home I had no idea what to do with myself. I was trying to think what I would have done anyway (since Ross is back home w/ the fam). After some quick journaling I decided to watch The Office. That show could cure anything. :)

On another note...I've been thinking about romantic comedies and prince charming. I'd like to possibly develop these ideas more, but for now here are my preliminary thoughts.

Romantic comedies are great, I'm a total fan of chick flicks. But at the same time, they can bring up thoughts and feelings that don't necessarily correlate with the real world. I remember watching two chick flicks at the beginning of my senior year of college with my roommates. After watching them I was quite bummed out that I didn't have a boyfriend. I didn't really date at all during college, but there were times when movies would stir up thoughts and feelings of wanting that "love" that was portrayed in the movie. I was (mostly) fine about being single, but those movies had me almost craving a romantic relationship.

So on that thought, do romantic comedies give us false hope?! There are even fictional characters in the movies who say they wish their lives were like the movies. In almost every chick flick, everything works out in the end, which is probably why we love them so much. It would be sad if the girl ended up broken hearted and alone, no one would want to watch that! I think that these movies can give positive hope and false hope. Those of us who are called to marriage do have a love story of our own; maybe you're in the process of it now, or maybe it hasn't been written yet. For those of us not in a relationship right now, God has His reasons and we can't just give up hope.

On the other hand, these movies portray love that isn't always based on real or moral values. But somehow the guy and girl "fall in love" and often the guy has to fight for the girl. Oftentimes he goes after her, perhaps chases down her taxi (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days), flies to a foreign country and takes a horse to stop a wedding (Made of Honor), or gets a whole group of people to do a flash dance in Grand Central Station (Friends with Benefits). Reflecting on all of that makes me think that maybe Ross was right, maybe he doesn't love me (as a boyfriend would love a girlfriend) because he's not fighting for me or our relationship. And then again, maybe that's not true at all because I'm basing this off of chick flicks! (By the way, guys, this is a small insight into how the female brain works and how we might have a tendency complicate and over think things).

Regardless, women want a man of chivalry. We do want that guy who is going to fight for us, who is going to treat us like a princess, who is going to be our prince charming. Unfortunately the idea of "prince charming" is often shot down in our modern society. We shouldn't want that ideal because that man doesn't exist. It's something that Disney made up and our "prince charming" will not come riding up on a white horse or be dressed in shining armor. And...I'm not certain about this, but men probably see the term "prince" and think "pansy."

Whether you call him your Prince Charming or just your future husband (or perhaps your current husband/boyfriend/fiance), that should be the man we seek. He might not be dressed in armor of metal with a face mask, but he can still have armor of virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit. He might not slay dragons, but he will fight for you and stand up for you when others try to bring you down. He'll also fight for your love. Chivalry is more than just opening doors for women. It's about treating her as a princess, whether she is your sister, your mom, your girlfriend, your niece, or your wife. It's about respect, honesty, and loyalty. And every now and then, if you need to kill a spider for her, go for it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Musings

I have way too much on my mind to be able to blog about just one item! And frankly, I don't even know where to begin with listing the thoughts, but I suppose I'll start in chronological order from the day:

  • Persecution of the Church
    • The bf has been blogging about this and it's a legitimate concern. I haven't even shown him this outright attack on the church:
    • The Church has undergone many attacks in the past and still stands today. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it...this can give us hope in what looks like a grim age for the Church.
  • Increasing our effort to teach the truth on sexuality and marriage
    • Pope Benedict told some U.S. Bishops that we must better explain the teaching on sexuality (and marriage). You can read more here:
    • There is so much I want to read on this topic/issue/teaching so I can be better versed in explaining Church teachings, especially to youth and young adults. There is so much to read that it becomes overwhelming!
  • "Winning" the fight of the "new mandate"
    • I just read an article that claims we're winning the mandate fight. I would agree with the article that all we hear about is the "war on women" and how people disagree with the Church. But strong Catholics are out there and we know it's not a war on women! Get your heads out of the sand, people! It's about love and freedom and getting to heaven. :)
  • Funfetti Cookies
    • My friends and I have been watching the Catholicism series put out by Fr. Barron and Word on Fire. (PS: It's awesome). I'm thinking of making some Funfetti cookies, but I've used 1 cup out of the cake mix I still have in my pantry. I'm going to attempt to cut the recipe in half (which is super easy, involves cake mix, oil, and eggs) and hope they turn out!
  • Focus
    • I feel so distracted today and feel like I have ADD! But I think that's most days... I have a million thoughts running through my mind. I'll start one project at work, but then move on to something else because I don't want to lose those thoughts. But, oh wait, have to read this blog! Or figure out what to make for dinner! I've had this e-book up in my browser for several days now, but haven't read it. It's called "Focus" and it's aim is to help people focus. If only I can find the "time" to focus and read the darn thing.
Happy Monday everyone! I hope you have found the day productive and also hope you have found something to think about from these wandering thoughts.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Lorax - A Review

As a last minute decision after dinner on Saturday, the bf and I decided to catch the 10pm showing of The Lorax. I knew two things about the movie before the lights dimmed: it was adapted from a Dr. Seuss book and Taylor Swift was the voice of one of the characters.

The original book was published in 1971 and tells the tale of the Once-Ler, a faceless man who only cares about expanding his business and making more thneeds. In order to do so, he wipes the land clear of all truffala trees, which in turn forces the animals to evacuate and find a new home. The Lorax is a creature who speaks for the trees and tried to stop the man from his horrific actions. Apart from being a children's story, some people say the story is about: capitalism, consumerism, sustainability, and environmental issues. The bf didn't care for the movie because of the "environmental agenda." Sure, that might have been part of the movie, but I think it has deeper meanings.

As all movies based on short books do, it was true to the original story, but gave more of a plot with background information and extends the original ending. Besides the Lorax and the Once-Ler, another main character is Ted, a teenage boy trying to win the heart of a girl named Audrey (voiced by T.Swift). Audrey somehow found out about about "real trees" and Ted does everything he can to acquire one for her. As in the book, the Once-Ler gives him the last seed of a truffala tree and Ted is to plant it in the middle of town. The antagonist of the story, Mr. O'Hare (who has made a fortune selling air to the people of Thneedsville) hates the idea of a real tree being planted (for obviously reasons). There is a great comical chase through the plastic city, where Ted never loses sight of the seed and why he's chasing it down.

That scene says everything. Almost everyone is against Ted at that point, but he tries his hardest to capture the seed so it can be planted. He could have given up. Maybe Audrey would still like in the end, since he did try to plant the seed. But he didn't give up. And before he was able to plant it, he had to convince the townspeople why it was so important.

This is what I came away with after seeing the movie: Stand up for what you believe in and never give up in your fights against the world. People can be blinded by worldly views, but if someone exposes the truth, then maybe there's a chance others will change their minds. Right now the Catholic Church is going through a lot of trials and persecution for the things we believe in (i.e. the HHS mandate and our stand against contraception). We can't lose heart. Perhaps we just need to follow the words of Dr. Seuss:

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lenten Resources

Alright, here are some awesome sites with ideas for Lent.

St. Mary's (A&M) blog - everything you ever wanted to know about Lent

"Creative" ideas on what to give up for Lent

"40 Ideas for Lent"

This year I will be giving up the Snooze button. It is going to be so stinking hard! I tried to make a new year's goal of getting up around 8am every day (working parish hours allows me to go in at 11 or noon some days, so why would I not sleep in!?). Well, I haven't done the best at keeping that... but giving up the snooze button will be quite a sacrifice, and what better time to start it than Lent. I also plan on making sure I start the day with prayer. I have several options for this, so I'm not sure what exactly I'll choose to start the day.

Happy Lenting everyone. Let this season change you. Do something more than give up candy, that's not much of a sacrifice. Strive for holiness.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What is Love?

It's Valentine's day, so it's only fitting, right!?

"What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more."

If you watched the video, it's more like "What is lust?" And unfortunately today, those two "L" words get mixed up too easily. And if people think they won't get hurt with love, then they have a false notion of what love truly means. I might even argue that one doesn't know true love until they experience some sort of hurt or pain from it. We're human, so sometimes we say and do stupid things that hurt those we are closest to, usually without meaning to hurt them, of course. It doesn't always have to be hurt, it could be the sting that comes from missing someone. Whether they are in a different state, deployed in a different country, or have moved on from this world to the next, missing a loved one can hurt. Whatever it is, it always hurts more when it concerns someone we love.

Love isn't a feeling, it's a choice we make every day.

Obviously we should celebrate love every day, not just on Valentine's Day, and of course there are a lot of people who pass it off as another day, saying they don't need a special day to tell someone they love them. While this is true, I think February 14th offers us a great opportunity to reflect on love and celebrate the love that we do have in our life. We don't always tell our loved ones how much we care, whether they are significant others, spouses, or even friends. It's also a day to celebrate God's love. How easy it is to forget the love of our Father. Maybe there is a reason why Valentine's Day falls so close around Lent (and during Lent in some years). Those 40+ days give us a great opportunity to reflect on the love that God has for us and how we can attempt to give even a portion of that love back.

So whether you show your love today with gifts, words of affirmation, or simply spending time with those you love, let it be from the heart and include God in all you do.

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything."
Pedro Arrupe, SJ (former superior general of the Jesuits, 1917-91)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sunday Surprises

Last night at youth group we did the "Self-protection" lesson that we're supposed to give once a  year. We usually focus on the internet in some extent, and last night was about cyberbullying and revealing too much and then I brought it all back to how we can use technology and social media as tools to evangelize. At the end of the night I handed out paper cell phones for the high school youth to write prayers on; the catch was that they had to be 140 characters or less and were supposed to be about technology, either thanksgiving or asking for help to use it for the greater glory of God.

As I was walking around the tables, taking the "cell phones" that were done, I saw one guy wrote on his "Jesus help me." Short and sweet. I saw it and connected it to the shortest verse in the entire bible: Jesus wept. I asked the boy if he knew what the shortest verse was and proceeded to tell him. And then moved on to the next table.

As I looked at the prayers today, one really caught my eye. At the same table with three-word-prayer guy was our autistic student. He's high-functioning, but I usually don't count on him to do the activity. His cell phone prayer was also quite simple, and yet profound. He must have heard my conversation with the first guy, because this was on his cell phone:

How quick we do forget those words. And with everything going on in our world, especially our country today (HHS mandate, Planned Parenthood/Komen fiasco, everything else), I'm sure those words are still true. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I want to write

I want to in, professionally. I've been thinking a lot about my current job and the thing I like to do most is put together my own lesson plans and bible studies. And let's face it, there aren't a lot of Catholic bible studies for teens out there (unless they're hiding, and in that case, they need to come out, come out wherever they are!). So I told the bf that I could write and put together Catholic youth bible studies! I'm working on the Book of Job right now for my Wednesday night high school bible study. I have one resource from Loyola Press (Six Weeks with the Bible: Job), which is fine and dandy, but some of the questions do not pertain to youth.

Yes, I enjoy putting these things together, but it's also time consuming. If there were good bible study programs out there, it definitely would make my job a lot easier. So maybe I can make it easier for others...some day. Turns out there are a TON of Catholic publishing companies! I guess I just need to write more, which always seems to be such a problem due to the lack of time. If I had a netbook I could carry around everywhere I went (or I guess even a tablet would do), then I could write down all my ideas and form things from there. Would anyone like to be a benefactor to me and gift me one of those awesome devices!? I would dedicate books to you and you'd also be on my daily prayer list. I think that sounds awesome. :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jan 22 (23) - Day of Penance

Yesterday I attended a Traditional Latin (high) Mass with some friends and the bf. They attend on a regular basis, but for me, it was my first experience of how the mass was celebrated for hundreds of years until the 1950s and 60s. Call me crazy, but I even wore the veil. Yeah...a little weird.

I had an ok experience. I'm told it will get better the more I go because I'll actually know what's going on. :) I definitely missed parts of the mass; almost missed the consecration because the priest does it silently (except for the bells) and I was trying to follow along with the prayers he was saying. Also missed the final gospel, which was read silently as well. Overall it went by fairly quickly (maybe because I didn't know what was going on), and that was with a 1/2 hour homily! It turns out that these traditional priests (FSSP) definitely want their flock going to heaven and are concerned for the state of their souls and basically the souls of the world. Last week's homily was on defining marriage and yesterday's homily was on contraception (more or less). It fit in perfectly with the news that the government will be forcing non-profits (Catholic agencies and churches) to include contraceptives into their health care plans (I'm sure most of you have heard this, I'm not going into details) and also on the 39th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. The priest also mentioned that today is a day of prayer and penance for abortion throughout the Church, as promulgated by the USCCB.

As I was praying today, I wondered how many other priests told their congregations about this (day of penance). While I'm sure that most priests are 100% pro-life (I would hope 100% of priests, but let's be real), most also see it as a controversial topic and don't preach about it from the pulpit. They are doing their congregations a great disservice. If we want people to be catholic and stand up for life, then they need to be praying for life as well and know what is happening in the world and in the church. So many people passively sit around, uninformed and uncaring. We have to start caring. We have to start acting. How long can our country go on like this?

Anyway, before I start to ramble (I have hit the afternoon slump), I have read some great articles that people posted on Facebook today, and here they are:

Why we March for Life 

A Sexual Revolution (longer, but a must read)

And this was posted by Fr. Kyle on Facebook, the Director of Vocations for the Fort Worth Diocese:

"NewsFlash - The Parallel Jesus's Crucifixion And Pro Choice - Read this only with a prayerful heart. We should reflect and pray heavily today that over 50 million unborn children have been murdered in the past 39 years of legalized abortion even as the thought pains us to do so. (1) Jesus is betrayed by a kiss - How many women have been betrayed by the kiss of a man who later stole what is most sacred to all women, purity, by a series of emotional cons and spiritual rapes by saying "If you love me then you will do this"? (2) Jesus' friends run away - How many women find themselves alone and abandoned when they discover the crisis of their own pregnancy? (3) Jesus remains silent as he is tortured - How many women remain silent as they are mentally tortured by people that they have trusted and loved the most but are now encouraging them to seek an abortion? By the boyfriend, a parent, siblings, and best friends. (4) The mobs condemn Jesus - In our society the pro choice mob, the culture of death, pushes her to abort her child, giving her no other option. (5) Jesus' life is in the hands of Pontius Pilate - The unborn baby and the life of the their mother is in the hands of Abortionist Doctor. Pilate was sworn to uphold justice, Doctors are sworn to defend life at all costs, yet both practice unconscionable acts against God and their profession. (6) Jesus is sentenced to death - The mother trapped with no sense of any way of bringing their unborn child to birth as the pro choice mob and trusted friends has convinced her with demonic lies that "its the only way", "It's just a short procedure and then its over", or "your whole future will be destroyed". (7) Jesus is crowned with thorns - Now the thorns of the mother are torturous. She is being forced to go against her own soul, to take life rather than save it, this torture may last a life time. (8) Jesus carries the cross - Nobody can even imagine the cross that women bear as they enter the abortion clinic, all their joyful dreams seem so distant now. They may smile and even laugh to show external strength but deep inside their pain is unimaginable. (9) Jesus is nailed to the cross and crucified - A whole team of medical staff see to every detail to make it more comfortable...COMFORTABLE? !! Are you kidding me? What comfort could the soldiers possible give Jesus? He is being legally murdered!! Comfort to a mother? Her child is being legally murdered! Only Jesus' mother and a few women bring Him some comfort at the foot of the cross, and only a few men and women praying outside the abortion clinic can bring some spiritual assistance. (10) Jesus breathes his last - The child is killed by the Doctor, the mother is wounded severely in every way; physically, emotionally, spiritually. “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentations, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” Matthew 2"18 (11) Jesus Resurrects !!! - WOMEN who have had an abortion CAN BE HEALED. The culture of death lied to them, but they don't have to remained stomped down by the pro-choice crowd or be betrayed anymore by their trusted friends who pressured them into an abortion. Rachel's Vineyard and other Pro-Life-Post-Abortive Healing is available. Jesus' is the Resurrection and the Life, and no one who comes to Him shall ever taste death again; in Him and with the help of the Pro-Life organizations their is true healing, love, mercy, grace, and even purity again. Yes, God never abandons His Love...for He has Loved us to death and His Kingdom shall have no end. Let us all labor with all our life to end legalized abortion in the U.S.A. so that the unborn and their mothers may pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, inalienable rights endowed by our Creator and established by the forefathers of our once great nation."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

After the Storm...

There has to be periods of calm and stress-free weekends after stressed out weeks, right!? And here it is, a weekend I am looking forward to; a weekend I will spend sleeping, laughing, cooking, and hanging out with friends!

Tomorrow night I am hosting a game night for some friends; I mostly want to play my new game Telestrations. I will also be cooking and baking up a storm tomorrow afternoon and I can't wait to eat what I make! Here's my menu for the game night; most recipes I found on Pinterest and have linked the recipe:

Lasagna Spinach Rolls
Pizza Dip
Garlic Bread
Veggies and Dip
Mini Apple Pies (from my recipe, baked in muffin tins)
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip
Funfetti Bake Batter Dip
(with cookies and crackers for dipping)

Ever since I signed up for Pinterest, I have definitely been wanting to cook more and more; I have found some great recipes on there!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Challenges and Stress

When I wanted to be a youth minister my senior year of high school, I simply thought of how awesome it would be to share my faith with teens and (hopefully) bring them closer to God, just like my youth minister in high school did. I loved attending the Steubenville Youth Conferences and I had a great time every week of youth group.

When I had a seminar class on youth ministry in college and had a one semester internship, I was not made aware of major stresses that can come with the job. I did get to experience some of the behind-the-scenes work during my internship, but the seminar focused on theories and some best practices. I learned a few practical things, but it would have been nice to learn more.

When I started as full-time youth minister, I tried to continue what the last youth minister had going on. It wasn't until the big summer events and conferences when I started to get majorly stressed out. Sometimes people in charge forget that us newbies don't know exactly what we're doing in our first year(s)! I survived the summer, though, and actually had a lot of fun with the youth at the conferences and lock-ins.

Then came my second year, which didn't start off so well. There was conflict and tension and I had no idea why (turns out it was from a lack of communication and lack of asking the right people questions). Who would have thought that there could be conflict, tension, and drama while working for a church!? Especially when I'm one of the least dramatic people out there. It came, it went, it came back. The circle of life when you work with real people, I suppose.

My second year has also been a lot more demanding. People expect more. I learned how to turn down some things in life and have fewer meetings. Having free nights is one of the most amazing things in the world. I think every year, playing the balance game will change. Work, free/personal time, relationships, spiritual life, eating healthy, working out, errands, the list goes on! I have been very overwhelmed in the past 4-5 months and sometimes I don't even know what my purpose/goals are of being a youth minister. I feel like I don't know what I'm doing because it's not quite what I expected.

But I keep on. It has to be difficult before it can be easy. I have to learn from mistakes before I can teach others what I know. I have to grow in my ministry and be the youth minister I want to be, not the youth minister others want me to be. Yes, I have a job to do, but I also have my own strengths and weaknesses. Starting from (almost) scratch and building up your own youth ministry is a very challenging task, but I know it can be done. I also know I need to stop having a negative attitude about work! It needs to be positive, so that positivity will flow into all I do with my ministry. Lord help us all!

Friday, January 6, 2012