12 December 2018

Tacos, Tamales, and Our Lady of Guadalupe

The last parish I worked at was 35% Hispanic. We had a full-time Hispanic ministry program as well as religious formation classes, Alpha, and other Bible studies offered in Spanish.

For a primarily white-Anglo parish, it was interesting for me to learn more about the special cultural traditions for my Catholic Hispanic brothers and sisters. In my years as the youth minister in that community, it was a great gift to learn more and experience the beauty of the Hispanic culture from many Spanish speaking families I came to know.

One of the most special, important feast days is Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th (today!).

Every year, there is a special Mass in Our Lady's honor, complete with mariachi bands and a procession of her image in the church adorned with many different colored roses. After the lively liturgy, there is a big fiesta in the parish gym, with every type of delicious type of Mexican food you could imagine. The party went till midnight, complete with pinatas for the children, games, and lots of dancing!

While I am definitely not a Mexican American, I can certainly appreciate the festivities and celebration of other culture when it comes to living and celebrating our shared Catholic faith.

One of the things that appeals to me in living liturgically or celebrating particular feast days, is there is not one size that fits all people. We don't all have to do the same things in the exact same way. Find small, meaningful traditions that work for you or your family. Do the small things well. You do not have to beat yourself up or compare how other Catholics live and celebrate the liturgical year.

Here is a short list of idea's to get you thinking how you can celebrate our patroness of the America's:

  1. Eat some Mexican food - I know this one seems obvious! It doesn't have to be an extravagant five course meal. It can be as simple as tacos with chips and guacamole. Have some type of Mexican food or dish as a way to remember and celebrate this special feast.
  2. Go to a Spanish Mass today - Whether or not you live near a parish with a Spanish Mass, make an effort and do some research to find an opportunity to visit one on this day. It is such a beautiful, celebratory liturgy with traditions from different Hispanic cultures. If you cannot find one at a parish, check with your diocese to see if they are hosting a Spanish Mass or some type of cultural celebration at your diocesan cathedral.
  3. Purchase an image or statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe - If you don't have this image in your home, consider purchasing one and having it blessed. Maybe think about buying some red roses to put near Our Lady. It is a simple way to show our Mother honor on her feast day.
  4. Research the story behind the image - It is fascinating! Many scientific studies have been done on Saint Juan Diego's tilma. For me, this is one of the most beautiful parts of this Marian apparition. Check out some websites to read more on what science sees what Mary saw from the tilma here, here, and here
  5. Think about buying and donating some baby care items to a local pregnancy center - Remember in this image of Mary, she appears and is pregnant with Jesus. Our Lady was a young, unwed expectant mother when she appeared to Saint Juan Diego. Do something today to bless other young women who find themselves in this situation. 
  6. Do an act of charity for the poor today - Juan Diego was a poor, humble, peasant when Our Lady appeared to him. Why not show your love for our Mother by doing something charitable for those closest to her heart - the poor, forgotten, and little? Be on the lookout for an opportunity to bless someone less fortunate than you.
Have you ever celebrated today's feast?

Would you add anything else to this list?

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the America's, pray for us and our families!

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15 November 2018

How to Deal with Difficult Family Members During the Holidays

I do not claim to be an expert in any way or that I have the best skill set.

But I have been to a lot of counseling on my own.

And boy, oh boy, has it given me new insights into myself and my relationships with other people.

For many people the holidays can be a messy, even painful time when trying to navigate relationships with difficult family members.

I am sharing some helpful tools and tricks I have learned over at the Blessed is She blog.

Mosey over here to read more.

Would you add anything else to the list? What is helpful for you personally when dealing with difficult people?

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22 October 2018

Running, Retreating, and Why It Matters to Dress for the Weather

It feels like for many of us these fall months can be some of the busiest.

Back to school for kids, sports teams begin again, and getting ready for the holidays and colder months, it seems to be a full time.

This weekend was just that for me.
Friday and all day Saturday was the first (hopefully annual) Radiant Light Conference here in SE Michigan. It has been the prayers and a lot of hard work from friends of mine in ministry. Seeing a need, we jumped and took a risk to make it happen.

We had 130 women of all ages show up, and overall I think it was a beautiful and fun weekend.

We had a fancy social gathering on Friday night. Saturday morning started with Eucharistic Adoration. 

Women arrived to a beautiful space, legit swag bags, lots of amazing vendors, and opportunities for reconnecting with friends while time to meet new women. There were keynotes from local women and break-out workshops in the afternoon on everything from finding holy rest, finding joy in transition, and finding God in creativity/art.

I think Mary (the brains behind this project) really tapped into a need in our local community for women to have more of these types of things: for community, sisterhood, and learning and growing together.

It was a long day, but I was so happy to be part of this good work.

Sunday morning I ran my second marathon in Detroit. 

I will be honest and say my training was less committed, and I felt that in both my mental game and in my physical body at times. My time did not really improve at all, but I think going in I knew that.

I was disappointed I had to walk a little bit. But as I finished, I didn't want to be shaming myself. I ended really convicted of a few things.

First, I need to train smarter and be consistent with my running group. 
And second, I need to be committed to strength training. Like a lot.

Every life experience is a teaching moment and this race was no different.

It was so wonderful to see my cheering squad at the half-way point. But even better right as I crossed the finish line, and after for some big bear hugs.

I also learned the valuable lesson of why it really matters to dress properly for the weather. With running, I typically tend to overdress in worry I may get too cold. Wellllll yesterday I could've dressed warmer.

When I started seeing everyone else in their running tights, I knew this was going to be a longggg morning. Case in point, be prepared and dress for the weather. #themoreyouknow

It is not always about the race, but the journey.

Yesterday's race was harder than I planned, but I know I can do hard things.

All of us can.
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