11 December 2017

It All Goes Back to Porn

We live in a culture where access to pornography is as easy to get a hold of as a mobile order for a grande Starbucks latte.

I have been watching and reading a lot as #metoo grew louder and people started to take notice. We've all watched as Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and many others were fired over accusations of sexual assault on women. For several months now, sexual assault has dominated our media and news.

But in all the news coverage and articles I have read, there is one connection that no one in the secular world is making.

Which is?
That we live in a world that accepts and normalizes pornography. Sexual assault, abuse, manipulation, and the objectification of women all come back to rampant porn use. 
It all goes back to the porn.

And nobody is talking about it.

When pornography is the norm, is socially acceptable, it opens the gate to objectify and use another person.
When its the norm to use another person you see the mess we are dealing with today in the culture. 

If we really want to do justice to #metoo and women who have been sexually abused, we have to acknowledge the horrific damage pornography is creating in our world and culture and relationships.

We've heard snippets from some people in the media.
Elizabeth Smart shared her kidnappers exposing her to pornography made her captivity a living Hell. Serial killer Ted Bundy said in an interview watching porn only takes you so far and eventually you need harder materials.

Nothing makes more money online than pornography. NOTHING.
The human body and soul is treated cheaply and without dignity.

We have the science that viewing porn actually re-wires the brain in ways that negatively affect how men and women view and treat each other. There are pictures of the human brain that show what happens chemically when porn is watched and the brain looks very similar to brains addicted to hard core drugs.
And yet there are still people who deny or downplay such findings.

We wonder why these horrific #metoo stories keep coming out. Is porn the only reason? No, but it is one of the main contributing factors.

If we want to do justice to women who have been sexually abused and manipulated we absolutely have to address a core problem that says it is okay to use women and treat them as objects.

If we cannot agree on that or start from this foundational point, then what the heck are we doing?

So many people (both men and women) have been harmed by the misuse of sexuality that because of things like #metoo everyone is more aware or talking about it now. 

People are more aware. Stories are being shared and experiences being validated. 

But if we want to do right by victims everywhere, we cannot afford to sweep its connection to pornography under the rug.

If people are going to stand up for the rights of women who have been abused and silenced over the years, then we also have to speak to this reality which is affected by a pornified culture.

It really does go back to pornography.

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20 November 2017

A Baby, Beatification, & New Job

November has been such a full, crazy month. All good things, but just so many good things.

November 1st (All Saints Day) I became an auntie! My sister Annie had her baby boy (my godson!) Xavier Paul. He is super cute and has a full black head of hair!

The best parts have been rocking and singing to him while he falls asleep on my chest. Few things in life are as wonderful as snuggling a brand new baby.

It is still crazy to realize this sweet little person has joined our family. Since meeting and spending time with Xavier, it has given me a lot to think and reflect on what it means to be a mother; particularly a spiritual mother as I do not have children of my own.

Seeing this little person whose life I will get to impact has been helping me realize even if I never marry or have my own children, there will still be ways I can be a mother. 

Next big day for little X-man is his Baptism on December 10th. My Dad will get to baptize his first grandchild.

Cue the waterworks now.

The first weekend in November was our youth ministry fall retreat. It was long, cold, and I laughed so much with these crazy kids. We hugged and cried and had an awesome theme all bout the power of the Holy Spirit.

This past Saturday was a very special day for our local church in Detroit. Fr. Solanus Casey, a humble Capuchin friar was beatified. He was know for his simplicity, humility, and his spiritual gifts of healing and prophecy. Many people have experienced physical and spiritual healing through the words and prayers of Blessed Solanus. It was a long day, but beautiful and sacred all rolled into one.

Number estimate 68,000-70,000 people came to Ford Field for the Mass. I just love the universality of the Catholic Church.

Photo cred: my much more creative friend, Danielle Center

And yes I have a new job! I have actually known about it since mid-September but needed to coordinate both parishes making announcements at the same time. For the first time ever I will break taking a break from youth ministry. It is crazy to think it would have been 10 years in February! Youth ministry has been a love and passion for so many years, but I am looking forward to spreading my wings in new ways.

I will be a pastoral associate at the new parish. I am very excited to get trained as a lay person to help people with their annulments and will be taking a Canon Law class on marriage nullity to get certified. 

My other responsibilities will include: women's ministry, marriage prep, marriage ministry, and creating a recovery program for divorced Catholic's.

I will start on January 8th. I am so excited but nervous at the same time. I am really looking forward to growing in new ministerial skills and taking new risks.

2017 has been good to me. And I am excited to see what the New Year has in store.

I have said it many times here that my life looks so much different than I ever imagined. Different of course is not bad it is just different. 

God is gently prodding me to not control every aspect of my life and I am learning what it means to be content right now in the present. Sometimes I am better at it. And sometimes I royally suck at it.

But not matter the big feels or pity party I may want to throw, I know He is good and faithful. 

Excited to see what 2018 holds...

What is new and exciting in your life?! :)

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31 October 2017

The Reformation 500 Years Later & Why We Should Care

Today is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

And that is a big deal to Christians everywhere. 

Leading up to this day, its significance has been on my mind and heart a lot.

You may be wondering, "Okay but what is the big deal? Why should millennials today care about Martin Luther and the Reformation?" 

Because it is part of our story as Christian disciples.

It is part of our history.

And when we better understand our history, we can move forward into the future with more empathy and understanding. 


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16 October 2017

It is about the journey, not just the finish line.

I was into my 15th mile yesterday morning when a woman one the sideline had a cardboard poster board that read, "Today you will finish a marathon!"

She cheered and yelled louder for folks in the green bibs (me!) as it was their first time running Detroit or first marathon ever.

When I ran by here we made eye contact and she hollered at me, "GIRL. You are gonna finish a marathon today!"

That is when it hit me. 
I am going to finish and I started to cry.
It hit me in that moment (no matter the weather!) I was going to finish my first marathon.

I have spent more than half of my life not feeling comfortable in my own skin, wishing I was someone else. Don't even get me started how I felt about my own body.

I spent most of my 20's comparing myself to others and believing lies about me from the time I was a little girl.

I was horribly insecure and hid it well behind a big smile and loud mouth personality.

I have told myself for many years "I can't do that, it's too hard."

And when faced with the hardest situation of my life I knew I was going to not just survive but I was going to thrive.

Running has become a very emotionally and spiritually healing tool in my life. 

Yesterday was about so much more than just crossing the finish line.

It was about the journey that brought me there. 

And I would not trade that journey for anything in my life.

I am certainly not grateful it all happened. But I am 100% grateful for what it has taught me about myself as a woman.

I carried and prayed for so many people and situations yesterday on the road: my godchildren, my immediate family, personal situations, my aunt battling cancer again, all my Blessed Is She sisters (especially the BIS Team!!), friends, and my own future.

When I turned the corner and saw the 25 mile marker I started choking up again. 

I ripped those earbuds out and soaked up every step of that tiring final mile.
I recalled the faces and names I most carried in my heart and thanked God for this opportunity.

After I crossed the finish line, I leaned over and just started weeping. 

Sure I was grateful to be done running, but even more grateful what this journey represents to me in a new phase of life.

We can do hard things in life.

We are not responsible for what happens to us, but we are responsible for how we choose to respond to it.

My first 26.2 is not just about a medal.

It represents a change of heart, a change in how I look at life and myself.

Your finish line may look different than mine. But the journey is still the same.

Because all of us can do hard things in this life.
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02 October 2017

Why Hugh Hefner is an Important Lesson in Praying for the Dead

Since the death of Hugh Hefner went public last week the Internet has been abuzz with obituaries and commentaries.

Some people are hailing Hefner for his outspoken support of civil rights or liberating American culture from a puritanical sexual morality.

Some people (even in the Christian world) are filled with hate and wishing him eternal damnation in Hell.

I look at the death of Hugh Hefner as an opportunity to practice one of the most difficult tenets of Christianity. 

Specifically, praying for people who hurt you.

I obviously did not know Mr. Hefner personally and he had no idea who I was. 

But my life has been deeply affected by the addictive, manipulative empire he stood for and in Playboy.

Sexual addiction and pornography are the reasons I am no longer married. 

I find myself both angry and truly heartbroken for the millions of little boys whose innocence was robbed and taken from them in what Playboy represented. Little boys who were confused by what they saw which hurt their own sexual development and identity.

I am angry how Playboy laid the groundwork to the gateway drug of pornography affecting millions of men, young boys, and women. 

I am angry and disgusted that a woman's body has been treated as an object; a mere image of sexual pleasure and fantasy for a man to "get off" on.
I am sad for so many women who have been used, abused, and treated as a man's plaything.

Sexual freedom never comes from the using of another person. And Playboy has used up women for such a long time.

Playboy and pornography are gateways to other deeply addictive ways of acting sexually: adultery, masturbation, sexual abuse and violence, prostitution, lust, contraception, abortion...the list just goes on.
The sexual sins that Playboy represents spits upon all that is good and true about our bodies and sexuality. 

While I hate what this man did and represented, I do not wish Hugh Hefner to burn in Hell. 

Last week I was finding it very difficult to pray this man.

I read in a magazine article that as young boy Hefner felt very disconnected emotionally from his mother and was not shown much love. When we lack in experiencing real love in our lives, often we are propelled to seek it out and chase after it...even if those ways are damaging to the mind and soul.

But I did pray for him. 

Since then I have prayed those words Saint Faustian left us in the Chaplet oF Divine Mercy, "Jesus, have mercy on us and on the whole world." 

Jesus, show him mercy. 

I hate with every fiber of my being the evil he supported and represented, but mercy Jesus, only Your mercy.

It is hard to do that. 

Like really hard; especially when its so easy to think of the millions of families, marriages, and lives that have been destroyed by all that Playboy is.

The death of Hugh Hefner presents the Church with an opportunity to speak up and into the destruction the pornography epidemic is having on marriages, families, and relationships.

So Church show up and step up!
I am begging you.

May his death be an opportunity to speak truth and hope to many people who have been deeply impacted by what he and Playboy represent.

But more importantly, let this be an opportunity to pray for the dead. 

Let us call out the mercy of Jesus, not condemnation or due justice.

Jesus have mercy on Hugh Hefner, on all of us, and upon the whole world.

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26 September 2017

The Wounded Healer (and why that is each of us)

I was in college when I first heard of Henri Nouwen. It wasn't until the beginning of graduate school that I actually began to read some his writings. 

His Life of the the Beloved is one my favorite spiritual books during this season of life.

As I started working in ministry, a friend had suggested I read Nouwen's The Wounded Healer. He said he thought this was required reading folks working in ministry. Years later as I reflect on my life so far, I see how right he was.

The premise of the book is that in our own woundedness, we can become a source of life and healing for other people. When we acknowledge and work through our brokenness and wounds, we become more compassionate, empathetic ministers.

I find myself re-reading the book and drawing on certain themes as I am taking a class on Theophostic Prayer Ministry and eventually working towards certification

TPM is an inner healing ministry that seeks to deal with inner emotional pain. It is a type of prayer designed to help people identify the lies they are holding onto that are causing them emotional pain and disrupting their walk with Christ.

People are asked to identify an emotion from a painful memory and expose the lie-based thinking that is causing them emotional pain. Then you hold up the exposed lie to Jesus to receive truth from His perspective.

We all have some lie-based thinking we are carrying around, some of which we may not even be aware of. But when we expose lies to the light of Jesus then truth can undo the power of lies we previously believed.

When I was married, my husband and I had several individual prayer sessions and I found it helpful. Since the experience, I knew I wanted to learn more and experience it for myself so maybe someday I could help other people too.

While there is much more wholeness and freedom in my life, there is always more that God desires to give.

The more we face our lie-based thinking and wounds from life, the more we experience greater freedom.

I think that is what makes a wounded healer.

A willingness and courage to face the inner pain in our heart and mind. The difficult things we experience in life will do one of two things: they will either break us or make us stronger.

I will never have it all together. I still need more healing in my own life, even though I am more whole than I've ever been in my life.

After the experience of marriage/divorce/annulment, I saw really clearly things that kept me trapped emotionally and spiritually. And as I experience deeper freedom, I just desire to learn more so I can help other people.

The principles of things like TPM or Unbound are gifts to the Church and the world today.

Each of us has wounds from this life. 

But these wounds (once processed and worked through) can be a way Jesus desires us to bring His healing and restoration to His people. 

Each of us is a wounded healer.

As I begin this class, I am so grateful for the healing I have experienced in my life so far. But it also brings to awareness healing is a life-time journey...we need to constantly be open and receptive for the MORE that God wants to give us.

The places God calls you to bring hope and healing will probably be different than mine. 

But right in your own relationships, family, job, and community there is a need only you can fill.

Be open. 

Listen to the Holy Spirit (and your heart).

Ask the Lord where has He put you to bring His healing light.

And then step out in faith and take a risk.

P.S. Check out a copy of The Wounded Healer
I promise you will not be disappointed. 

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18 September 2017

Shame, Sexuality, and The Heart of Man

Shame is the most destructive, powerful lie that Satan whispers into our hearts and minds.

It has the power to change what we believe our about ourselves to the depth of our soul.

And shame that is connected to our sexual identity, pain, and trauma has lasting effects to our of our soul we cannot always see.

Enter The Heart of Man

The movie is a cinematic re-telling of the story of the prodigal son which plays into a wider conversation about our sexuality, shame, and understanding our belovedness as sons and daughters of God.

The movie dives into the painful trauma of sexual abuse and how such painful unprocessed experiences as young children lead to deep seated shame in our hearts, which then affect our how we view sexuality and our own worth. 

Everybody carries shame and shame always drives us deeper into isolation. When we look to the places in our heart we carry the most secrets, that is where the most shame exists.

And because the secrets and shame wells are so deep, its too painful to be vulnerable and expose ourselves. Sometimes we can learn to live with shame because to face it head on would be too much.

But the beautiful irony is that exposure of our secrets and shame can actually become the path toward of healing and transformation. The messy process of healing is not so much changing or becoming something you weren't, but uncovering the truth of who you have always been from the beginning.

The movie talks about some of the most painful, difficult conversations we struggle to have (particularly in the Church sometimes): sexual abuse, sexual addiction, the shame they produce, and life-changing power that takes places when our shame can become a bridge to the heart of the Father.

This not the cheesy, poorly done Christian B film. This is raw beauty and deeply thought provoking.
When it becomes available for purchase, this would be a great resource for a variety of people and groups working in ministry.

While I have done a lot of healing work in my own sexual abuse and shame, it is a stark reminder to never give into the false truths about my own worth and dignity before my Heavenly Father.
Those five letters will never hold the power they used to over me ever again.

It is reminder to me to keep doing the healing work which helps me experience the freeing truth of who I am and will always be before Jesus...Beloved.

Our name is not shame or sin or brokenness or guilt, but Beloved...always and only Beloved.

What if our brokenness was not a barrier, but a bridge to God?

And the awesome thing that to our God, our brokenness is what draws us deeper into His heart.

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14 September 2017

The Illusion of Control in the Spiritual Life

I've talked around here before that a recent-ish spiritual lesson I am learning is that I can be controlling with God.

Like a lot.

In my spiritual journey I have struggled over the years with the doing vs. being with God. My perfectionist nature whispers to me if I "do" lots of churchy, holy things than I am more pleasing to God. I have to come before Him a certain way.
And while I have grown in this area, it still catches me off guard from time to time.

But this illusion of control with Jesus, is something He is gently reminding and re-reminding of ever since my first Ignatian retreat this past Lent.

Over the end of the summer, I was struggling a little: feeling insecure about being on my own right now, dating, not getting a job I wanted, and just second guessing myself in general.

As I kept coming back to Jesus in my journal and personal prayer, I kept hearing in my heart "I see you. I have not forgotten you."

And my response to the Lord?

I got angry and annoyed. 
Really Patty?! 

I basically brushed it off: "Oh yeahhhh that's nice and sweet and precious of you Jesus, but not really what I wanted to hear." I more or less told the Lord that wasn't what I NEEDED to hear. 
I complained and whined about what I really wanted or thought was best to hear from the Lord. #controllingmuch

Thank goodness for wise, gentle spiritual teachers in my life who told me to go back and ask the Lord why I was so resistant to hearing Him speak those words to me. I did that and God had to humble my heart. He took me back to wounds that still need healing.

I am slowly realizing when I try to control Jesus that I cannot fully receive from Him.

In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus turns to Peter and says "you are an obstacle to me."
I've always heard the part right before where Jesus in reference to Peter says, "Get behind me Satan!"

But the being an obstacle part, that recently cut me to the heart at Mass one Sunday. And for me it again goes back to this illusion of control with God.

As I took those words of the Gospel to prayer, an image kept coming to mind.

I was looking down at Jesus from above and He was trying to walk forward on the road. But he couldn't because at his feet, was this rambunctious, high-energy little puppy dog running circles around his feet. Chasing her tail or trying to nip at his ankles, the puppy was just being a puppy dog.

Not anything bad or naughty, but Jesus couldn't walk ahead because the puppy was so absorbed in being...well a puppy!

The Lord gently showed me I was that little puppy dog, being an obstacle to Jesus. It was not shaming at all, but a gentle prompt. Another reminder to get out of His way and stop trying to control my life or the circumstances around me.

We cannot control God. 

If we think we can we have made God into our own image.

While its an awkward and difficult lesson to keep learning it has been healing in a lot ways at the same time.

Jesus, I want to be able to receive from You...not control You.

Please show me (and all of us!) the difference...

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11 September 2017

Birthdays, Dating, Writing, and Life Lately.

The last few months I've been riding the struggle bus to keep a regular writing pace here.

Summer has been fun and relaxing, and if I don't have really anything to say I don't want to clutter things with filler posts.

So turning 32 over the weekend seemed as good a time as any to reflect on the goings on around here lately.

On Saturday I turned 32 and celebrated my sister' Annie's baby shower. It was a beautiful day, but the highlight was most definitely being asked to be godmommy to #juniorschunior, my little niece or nephew. I started crying and told my sister this was the seriously the best birthday present I could get. 

We all sealed the deal with a group hug along with my brother who is the godfather. Did I mention my Dad (who is a Catholic deacon) will get to baptize his first grandchild too!? #itsgonnabeapartyyyy #cannotwait

Later that night I went out with one of my dearest friends Sarah and we caught up on all the life things. Sunday my Mom came to Mass with me and we grabbed lunch in the city with my Pops afterwards. And later that night, I wandered over to Belle Isle for Mass 2.0 and a huge taco party with tons of young adults.

So yeah dating...is interesting. 

I feel so different doing from a perspective of healing and wholeness vs. insecurity and neediness. Counseling for the win!

I have been on a few dates here and there and even been awkwardky hit on by an old man in a coffee shop after church once. My favorite date story so far has been the guy that picked a wedgie within two feet of the table while en route to the bathroom. 
Ummmmmmm no. 

BUH. BYE. sweetie pie.

While those lonely moments creep in every now and then, I know I am right where I'm supposed to be. I am just living my life without living to find someone. 

I had my first freelance piece published in America Magazine. You know its good when it ruffles the feathers of Catholic folks from the left and right ;)

I did a workshop at Blessed Is She on Boundaries a few months back and am preparing for a few talks I'm giving this Fall at two different parishes. I am hoping to start to do more writing and speaking on the side to bring in a little extra money and slowly work that inky stinky debt snowball.

Youth Ministry starts up again full-time this Sunday and will be more busy from now to about Thanksgiving. This Saturday the leadership teens wanted to have a king party together where we hang out, bake good food, and eat it together. 
Sounds fun to me!

Its about 5 weeks till my marathon debut on October 15. I have gotten a couple long runs under my belt and was SHOCKED how good I felt after my 16 and 18 mile runs. 
Extra Strength Bengay, you're my new bestest friend. 

Oh and bacon. All the bacon.

At the end of September, the Blessed Is She is getting together again for a retreat in Wisconsin and I cannot freaking wait to see these lovely women again.

Overall life is in a good, beautiful place. Perfectly the way I desire it? 
No. But that is not how life goes.

One thing the Lord has been teaching lately in prayer is when I try to control Him it prevents me from receiving from Him.
So I am gently trying to live out of that truth day by day...

Hope you're starting to enjoy some of the beautiful Fall weather too! :)

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05 September 2017

Whispered in the Dark

Sometimes I think Christians struggle to have certain difficult pastoral conversations well.

We don't know how to talk about certain things because we struggle with the language or its just plain awkward and messy.

But sometimes the most awkward, messy conversations are the most important ones we need to be having.

Enter Whispered in the Dark.

My friend Danielle and I are introducing a new workshop to the Archdiocese of Detroit--a workshop for the empowerment and support of women who find themselves seriously dating/married to a man who addicted to porn.

If we as a Church want to help young women today date smart and form strong holy marriages, we have to talk about one of the biggest killers to good Christian relationships and marriages. Roughly 60% of marriages that end in divorce, porn use played a role.

It is not an easy topic to talk about. We as a Church have be on the front lines. 
We have to be willing to talk about the painful stuff.

We have compiled a morning of compassionate, informative professionals who will talk about sexual addiction 101, testimonies from women whose relationships have been impacted, list of resources/books/counselors/where to turn for help, teaching from sound spiritual leaders who understand the connection between addiction and spirituality.

Maybe you don't deal with this personally, but the statistics STRONGLY suggest that you know someone who does. And she probably doesn't know how to talk to you about it.

If you have young daughters, nieces, goddaughters, granddaughters, etc. this is the culture they will be growing up in: pornography, objectification, sexual abuse and manipulation, and misogyny.

If you have young women in your life you care about, this is something you need to be educated about. And if you happen to live in or near Southeastern Michigan, I would really love you to come on September 23...and help us spread the word!

One of the greatest lies is for Satan to confuse us and make us feel alone; like we are the only one going through something. I know I felt this way many times when I was in the middle of it when I was married.

If you do not live near SE Michigan, please pray and fast for us. We have never done this before. We have no idea how many women will come, but Danielle and I see it as such an urgent need for the Church to speak into more.
#bringallthewomen #pleasejesus

At the end of the day, this is something we are all facing, since we are all a part of the Church together.

And for the sake of young women you care about, be educated so you can help empower and educate her.

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12 August 2017

The uncomfortable (but true) reality that God doesn't owe me anything.

One of my favorite resources to use in youth ministry is the Fr. Mike Schmitz videos he produces for Ascension Press. 

I often use them at leadership team meetings for an extra dose of formation and they always lead to great conversations. The teens love him and refer to Fr. Mike like he's a priest they personally know. #kindasweet

There have been several videos that have really knocked me upside the head. Like the ones on fasting?! Whew. 

Last week I re-watched God Doesn't Owe You Anything.

It's a true yet uncomfortable spiritual truth I find myself coming back to lately. 

God doesn't owe me anything. 
Not one damn thing.

God doesn't owe me a wonderful marriage with lots of babies, that job I really want, or a certain number on my pay stubs. He doesn't owe me a life of ease, comfort, or even security. 
God will never ever be in my debt.

Sometimes I confuse God's faithfulness with the promise that I deserve good things in life because...well I just do! It is my right to be happy and have good things in my life. It is such a misunderstanding of the Gospel Jesus preached; we don't follow Jesus because we're expected to receive good things as a result of our fellowship with Him. 
Jesus is not a vending machine.

Honestly acknowledging this rubs me raw sometimes; it makes me uncomfortable that I feel this way and then when I have to honestly name it before Jesus in prayer.

I've noticed some of this mentality creeping in from time to time especially after my divorce and annulment: "Jesus I deserve this (fill in the blank) because I went through all this stuff (fill in blanks again)." When I live out of this attitude, I know it is my own brokenness talking back at me...which are subtle reminders that I still need counseling and Unbound prayer. 

When I catch myself going down that rabbit hole, I have gotten better at stopping myself and renouncing those lies. But at the same time, I've had to do A LOT of talking and (even more) being still with Jesus on WHY I have this perception with Him sometimes.

I don't love having to admit how many times I have whined to the Lord, "Okay Jesus, when is it my turn to have good things happen to me?!" My perception of God's goodness sometimes is weighed down by what I want and what I expect out of my relationship with God. 
And that's jacked.up.

I have done nothing to deserve this life I have been given, the many gifts and blessings I do have. 
When I get hyper focused on what I do not have in life, it makes me super forgetful (and ungrateful) of the many more blessings and good things God has freely given me.

Not because I deserve them or I am owed them, but just freely given...as gift.

I have a body that is capable of physical things I never thought I could do like train for a marathon.

I grew up in a home where my parents loved each other and loved their kids. Not everyone in life has that.

The list goes on and on.

Shaking my fist at God for what I don't have is not what changes things.

But changing how I look at all I do have as pure gift, that changes my heart and my perspective.

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31 July 2017

The Stigma of Doing Things Alone

A few months ago I was sharing with someone two good movies I had seen recently. I also casually mentioned I went by myself.

The look I got back when I said I went alone was one if I had said I just kicked a puppy dog in the stomach. 

"Really?" he said. "I would want to find someone to go with, otherwise it would feel lonely to me."

I found myself recalling this conversation recently as I went somewhere nicer for dinner. Just me. 
It was relaxing. I had a nice glass of wine and brought a new book with me...between the people watching ;)

It seems sometimes in modern society there is an unspoken stigma of doing things alone: going to dinner, the movies, travel...anything really. 

If you are alone doing activities typically done in groups, it could be seen as lonely or having no friends. Seeing another person out and about on their own, doesn't equate with being a lonely heart or an awkward bear. 

Does that mean when I've been out and about on my own I haven't felt lonely before? Of course not! I'm human. But doing things by myself doesn't mean I deserve pity.

I am wondering if it is something on a deeper level. 

I wonder if people feel afraid to try and do things on their own because they're not sure what others will think of them. I think on some level we're all scared of being alone, of not being known and loved. To be known and loved are some of the deepest desires of the human heart.

In a world of endless distractions, it can be so easy to run away or avoid loneliness. Because when we're distracted all the time we don't have to face our "stuff" or be alone with our thoughts.

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to be alone. But being alone doesn't equate loneliness.

I've had to re-learn what being alone looks like in healthy ways. I used to avoid it like the plague. Now I see to be healthy in relationships with other people, I need to be okay being alone with myself.

Yes we human beings are social creatures. God created us with a inherent desire to be in relationship with each other. Socialization and being in a community are important needs for healthy, emotional development.

The world continues to move at a whirling pace. But if we want to be truly known by others, we have to first know ourselves. And we cannot do that if we feel like we're unable to do anything alone.

Take yourself out to dinner.
Go see that movie and eat the whole freaking bag of popcorn.
Don't worry what other people are thinking.

Do you think there is stigma of doing things alone in our culture? What has been your experience?
I'm really curious...

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18 July 2017

What Every Woman Needs in Her Relational Toolkit

I used to think I knew EXACTLY what went into stable, solid relationships with other people. I thought I knew how to have a healthy, emotional relationship with a guy. I believed I was a pretty faithful friend to those in my life. 

Then life happens.

I began to see major cracks in how I did relationships. All of this led me to see how I was dragging around past wounds and trauma into my current relationships. I saw how easily I would return to controlling and manipulative ways in relationships as a coping mechanism.

Enter Boundaries.


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17 July 2017

What Silly Icebreaker questions Taught Me about My Dad

The 4th of July weekend my Dad and I went to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. 

We stayed at the rustic cabin he goes hunting with his buddies every year. No electricity, running water, and complete with a fully functional out house.

We laughed, grilled some fresh fish, and had target practice in the woods. It was relaxing, peaceful.

But what I didn't expect was to walk away with a much deeper appreciation and love for my Dad. 
The kind that when someday he is gone from this earth, these few days will be looked back as a time I really got to know my Dad in a new way.

One of the main differences between my Dad and I is our temperaments. I am an ENFJ and he is a much, quieter and introverted person. 

Honestly at times in my growing up, it came off to me that he was emotionally distant or didn't understand me, even though I knew and believed he loved me so much. As I've gotten older and worked through my own baggage, I can understand the dynamic better between us. But there was certainly a time I did not.

So anyway, back to Patty and Dad's Wild UP adventure...

Friday morning we were driving and I just started asking him the fun, random ice-breaker type questions I use with teens on long car rides:
-5 countries you've never been to you want to visit and why.
-If you could only eat one genre of food the rest of your life what it would be and why?
-5 most meaningful movies you've ever watched.
-favorite family vacation growing up.
-you are having a dinner party and can invite any 5 famous people (dead or alive) who would you invite.

The list goes on, but you get the idea.

I was enjoying listening to Dad's answers and eventually as we drove on, he started adding in his own questions too. It felt special, just me and him.

Saturday morning we were driving to Whitefish Point and it was just quiet in the car. All of a sudden Dad pipes up, "Hey, do you want to do some more of those ice-breaking questions?" #wordforword
It was so sweet, and in his own way it meant "Let's talk sweetie."

We did this off and on the whole weekend from greatest fears, regrets, and dreams for the future to the silly like favorite ice-cream flavor or what your spirit animal would be.

Saturday night we were sitting in the cabin eating dinner, chicken kabobs with rice pilaf, grilled veggies, and cold beer. 
We were doing another round of the "ice-breaking" questions and I asked one that tapped a deep place for my Dad.

I asked him what was the biggest regret with his siblings and his parents.
He started tearing up and crying.

It totally caught me off guard. And to be honest I think my Dad too.

He started talking about each of his siblings with a raw, honesty I had never heard; his regrets with them and what he he wished had been done differently. He just started talking and I just sat there listening.

I have seen my Dad cry before, but only a handful of times. As I listened to him, I remember telling myself, "Patty soak this up, pay attention." As if to remind myself someday when he his gone, I'll look on this trip, this particular dinner conversation with such love and remembrance. 

My relationship with my Dad has had bumps and is not perfect. 

But the older I get, the more I see that he did the very best for my siblings and I that he possibly could. He worked hard, loved us kids and my Mom deeply, and has been a wonderful example for me on what it means to be pastoral and meet people right where they are.

I have lots of different memories with my Dad over the years. But this one is really different. I got to know his heart on a deeper level, in a way sometimes what I wished for when I was younger.

I think part of growing up is accepting relationships for what they are, not what we used to wish they were. 

And that's what this weekend reminded me of, the perfectly imperfect relationship with my Dad and how much more I love and appreciate him for it.

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22 June 2017

Dear Lysa, God doesn't hate you because you are divorced.

I had some really exciting news last week. 

I learned an article I submitted to America Magazine was going to be published. #cuedancinginmyoffice
You think I am kidding? That really happened.

I've had several people in my life encourage me to start to do more freelance writing, so it was encouraging to learn my first pitch will actually be published.

The title? God hates divorce. But He doesn't hate divorced people. 

The words come from a time I met with the vice rector (now one of our regional bishops) of our local seminary. Since then, those words have taken root deeply inside me as I look around and see a gaping hole when it comes to pastoral care for divorced people or those with irregular marriages in the Catholic Church.

I prayed those words over Lysa TerKeust this week as I learned she is divorcing her husband after learning he was unfaithful with a women he met online.
I am sad for her, her husband Art, her kids and grandkids. 

Having made such a decision myself, I know she didn't make it lightly.

On the day I would have been married for five years, I just find myself thinking about this woman I'll probably never meet and what she has to be thinking and feeling, especially as one who is in the public eye.

There will be some people who will question her decision or say there are never Biblical grounds for divorce. And there may be some who say you can only walk away if circumstances meet certain grounds. Some will say she was brave for leaving and some may say she was a coward.

And while I wish the best for this suffering family in such a painful time, I am yet reminded of the great need there is in the Church today for so many people who are hurt, wounded, and suffering.

All of us, all of "them". 
The alcoholics, ragers, cheaters, sex addicts, marriages in crisis, abused, divorced, drug addicts, etc.

Pope Francis has used the image before of the Church as field hospital on the battlefield: "The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds...And you have to start from the ground up."

My own lived experience is calling me to speak into a specific area I see a desperate need for greater support and pastoral attention. I am not really sure how what it will look, but bit by bit the Spirit is lighting something up in me that's not dimming anytime soon.

Like the Pope said, I want to do my own little part to help heal the wounds of hurting people...especially people who traveled a similar path that I have.

It feels weird to say, but I almost feel like going through a divorce has expanded my heart a hundred fold for people on the margins; people who facing great pain, suffering, and struggle. 

In a world where 50% of marriages end in divorce sometimes the commitment of marriage can look scary or that it cannot be done. One the most numbing experiences is to start to listen to the subtle whispers of the Evil One..."You'll never have a good marriage"...."you can't do this right"..."no one will ever love you." To enter into that inner dialogue never bears any good fruit and is spiritually dangerous.

I know sometimes I can catch myself feeling overwhelmed or anxious about not being able to have a healthy, life-giving marriage someday. I mean who wants to repeat the same mistake and get another divorce?

Today I would have been married 5 years. Its funny looking back I still remember the day crystal clear, but now I can look back with a healthy level of detachment and acknowledge it as a chapter in life.

I thought today would always be one the happiest days of my life and it sucks that it didn't turn out that way for me. But that doesn't mean I'll never get it right someday.

Today I just keep thinking about another sister in Christ whose walking a path she'd never thought she would have to travel...

Lysa, I hope you are surrounded with support and love from every angle. I hope you find an amazing counselor that will help you deeply forgive Art, forgive yourself, heal, and accept and grow from this painful reality.

Yes, God hates divorce. But He doesn't hate you. You are brave for leaving. And you'd be just as brave for staying too.

The heartbreak and pain of divorce are something our Father cares passionately about. They are deep, painful wounds that need healing and care. Don't run away from these wounds.

Because just like the sacred wounds of Jesus bring us our freedom, facing these painful wounds will profoundly and radically change you if you let God lead the work.

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12 June 2017

Learning to Stay in My Own Lane

When I first learned to drive I was horrible. Like to the degree I didn't get my license until I was well into age 17.

One of the scariest things for my was learning how to correctly merge into traffic on the freeway. I would tense up and have a severe death grip on the steering wheel. It took awhile to learn I should never hit the brakes while doing so and who had the right of way.

I was learning how to safely get into a lane while not killing myself or another driver. This is similar to how I am learning to stay in my own lane when it comes to living my life.

Over the last few years, my counselor has helped me learn how to stay in my own lane. I have discovered it is very easy for me to look at other people and wish I had what they have. You name it, I've probably felt insecure about it at some point. 

I start wishing I had that "thing" or allowing myself to feel less than because I don't. Or if I am really living up the pity party, I whine to God saying I deserve to have this to or when is it my turn for this particular experience.
Thankfully, I have people who call me out on that crazy nonsense. Because duh, that is not how God works.

It is like the 17 year old version of crazy Patty driving or merging on the freeway. I get distracted, start swerving, and possibly get myself into to trouble. When I get distracted driving, it throws me off and makes me more anxious.

It is the same exact thing in life. My job is to stay in my lane; accept and learn from it. Just like lanes of traffic they change; you merge in and out or the scenery will look different from time to time. 
The current lane I am in right now is not necessarily permanent or forever. 
It's just the right now for Patty.

I don't want to live my life wishing for the things I want and don't have right now. I am really trying to use "the right now" to stay humble and teachable.

It is more than just acceptance or contentment with the current season of life.
Staying in my own lane helps me find the beauty and gratitude for life right now even if it is not exactly the way I want it.
But wait since when is life exactly how we want it? ;)

I drive an old, rusty 99 white Lincoln aka the big white boat. Honestly I hate my car, especially when I see friends or family members who have nicer, cooler cars. But right now my car is paid off. 

And driving this piece of crap is what I have to do to get rid of that nasty college debt. 
The sacrifice now will pay off even more in the future when all my loans are gone.

Thankfully over the last 10ish years my driving (and merging) has gotten much better. I no longer break into cold sweats approaching the entrance ramp. And my counselor has to remind me less when we meet about staying in my own lane.

When I have hiccups or moments of insecurity, I try and catch myself and tell myself, "just stay in your own lane Patty. Just stay in YOUR lane."

What helps you stay in your own lane?

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09 June 2017

7Qt on Confirmation interviews gone horribly wrong, birthdays, and summer reads

Its been awhile since linking up with Kelly and the gang, so keeping it fresh on this rainy Friday morning...


Part of my job consists overseeing Confirmation prep. Interviews were this week. I had two young ladies who couldn't tell me what happens in the sacrament and what person of the Trinity Confirmation has most to do with.

I have a great pastor who believes in not just pushing young people through to receive the sacraments, but it still can be so frustrating sometimes.
By the end of the day, I wanted to punch a hole in the dry wall in my office. Thankfully I did not.


Wednesday was my sister's birthday. She works in downtown Detroit, so I drove there and took her out to lunch. The older we get, I think the more we like and appreciate each other. She's been a big source of support for me over the last year, and definitely my voice of calm reassurance as I start dating...

She also gave me a gorgeous yellow, lace dress to wear next Friday to a fancy shmancy fundraiser for our local seminary. Thanks for being pregnant Annie, feel free to give me any other clothes! ;)


I got together with one of my friends and partner in crime in doing youth ministry. We always do our summer youth leadership camp together. And this year we are leading the teens through UnBound. It is type of healing and deliverance prayer ministry that walks people through five keys (Repentance & Faith, Forgiveness, Renunciation, Authority, and the Father's Blessing) as way to experience greater freedom in their life.

I am really excited for it:)


Been at the library a lot, returning and picking up news books to read.

Here is what I have read lately:

Born to Run -autobiography of Bruce Springsteen, I cried

A Mile Wide by Brandon Hatmaker

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity...and why it matters

Any good books you've got going right now??


Over the 4th of July weekend, my Dad and I decided to go to the Upper Peninsula for a long weekend. We're staying at the hunting cabin he goes to with his buddies. We're talking limited bathing and no electricity. I am excited, mostly.

This week we started talking menu idea's.


It is a really awesome time to be a Catholic in Detroit.

Our Archbishop just released an important document that is going to tangibly change the culture of southeast Michigan.

Like CYO sports being mandated to not have any sporting events on Sundays, and top priorities are evangelization and discipleship of players and coaches. Right!?

GO read it. I about killed my highlighter.


My apartment is kinda gross right now. There is dust everywhere and the bathtub needs a good ol' fashioned scrubbing. Tomorrow afternoon is cleaning, lots and lots of cleaning.

Have a great weekend! :)

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