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.



post signature

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?! 
Yup.

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...


post signature

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! :)



post signature

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.

post signature

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.

post signature

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...


post signature

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.



READ THE REST HERE ...

post signature

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.



post signature

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.


post signature

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?



post signature

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...


(one)

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.

(two)

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! ;)


(three)

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:)


(four)

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??


(five)

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.


(six)

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.


(seven)

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! :)







post signature

26 May 2017

3 Myths About Catholics & Divorce

Life doesn't always go the way we plan.

Sometimes our greatest dreams do not turn out the way we hoped.

Case in point, the title of this blog post. 

Going through a divorce and receiving an annulment have taught me more about myself, relationships, and life than I ever thought. Like x100.


Yes God hates divorce, but He does not hate divorced people.

I believe He can even use the ending of marriage to bring about a greater good. 
How? Because I see it playing out in my own life.


I hope my experience can be an encouragement to someone else who is on a similar journey.

READ THE REST HERE ...





post signature

24 May 2017

Prayer That Keeps Me Honest & Humble

Over Lent, I went on retreat for 5 days of silence. I equally loved and hated it.

One of the things that kept coming up for me was how controlling I can be with God in our relationship sometimes. It is such a normal reaction, attitude for me that I don't always see when I am doing it.

In life, I generally like to take charge and get stuff done. Less talking and more doing. It is constant struggle to not live in the mindless busy but stay rooted in silence.

Since my retreat, I have been ending my day in with a particular type of prayer. The kind where you have to face yourself and not avoid the uncomfortable stuff you'd rather ignore...which is helping me become a little more humble and honest with myself.



I am talking about The Examen Prayer

Approximately 500 years ago, Saint Ignatius of Loyola developed this daily way of praying that invited people to examine their daily lives so they could better serve God and be aware of His presence in their daily lives. 

It is a spiritual tool that teaches you to look for God in daily life. Personally, I find it helps me stay spiritually aware.

The steps are very simple:

  1. Transition: Become aware of the love with which God looks upon me as I begin my examen.
  2. Gratitude: Note the gifts of God's love given to me the past day...count your grateful's and thank God for them.
  3. Petition: Pray for insight and strength that this examen will be a work of grace, fruitful beyond my human ability.
  4. Review: Walk through your past day with God. Look for stirrings in your heart and thoughts God has given you. Look also for those that have not been of God. Review your choices and responses to both, and throughout the day in general.
  5. Forgiveness: Face your shortcomings of the day and ask God's forgiveness.
  6. Renewal: Look toward the following day, and with God, plan concretely how to live it in accord with God's desire for my life.

The priest who led me on retreat also encouraged me to begin praying the examen daily in the evening. However, he challenged me to add one more piece to the part where I review my day with God. 

Ask the Lord sincerely and sit with this question, "Where have I been controlling with God today?"

BOOM. drop the mic.

Sitting with that question every night (okay almost every night ;) is opening my eyes and helping me be more honest with myself and God. 

And this concept keeps coming up for me in lots of different ways. 

God just keeps reminding my control-freak-of-a-heart that if I try and control and manipulate my life, I will never be truly happy, that I will never be at peace.


I used to think prayer was about the right words or having it together to come into the presence of God. But that is not what prayer is at all.

Prayer is just being honest with God. And the more I do this in my own relationship with God, the more I see Him gently softening those rough edges of my heart and attitude.


What helps you stay honest and humble in prayer, your relationship with God? I'm curious what helps and works for other folks :)



post signature

15 May 2017

Reclaiming Daughter-ness

Last fall, my friend Sarah and I were catching up over coffee and she started telling me about Shauna Niequist's newest book she recently read that was quickly being recommended to everyone she knew.

So naturally next pay day, I used some of my monthly chump change to buy it.

I read and savored it up. Every last word.

This past week I re-read it again. In one particular chapter, something struck me I hadn't noticed from the first time.

Shauna was talking about how in this season of life she is relearning her own daughter-ness; she's re-claiming something over the years that got lost and misplaced.

I have been thinking about that a lot over the last week.

Growing up in church, there were a lot of things I heard with my ears but never translated to my heart.

Jesus loves me.
You are a daughter of the King.
You were created for a life that no one else can fulfill.

Stuff-ish like that.




Honestly I heard it a lot. 

Some of it felt reallyyy cheesy. Some I didn't believe for years because of my own brokenness and wounds. 
Eternal truths that never register in our heart will never change us the way God desires.

I had many good people in my life and church community remind me of these truths. But that 18 inch journey between the head and heart sometimes is the hardest journey we'll ever embark on.

I am 31 years old. And for the first time in my life, I am really reclaiming my own daughter-ness.

Not in some happy-clappy Jesus or cheesy kinda way that's loud or obnoxious. Even though I can be kinda loud sometimes. #asktheyouthgroup
But in the that in changes the way you look and talk to yourself, the way you look at other people. The way I just feel in my own skin...its just different.

Those 18 inches between my head and my heart are more unified and whole than they have ever been in my life.

Maybe its all the kick a$@ counseling I have been going too (Mary, you can never retire! ;). Maybe its because I've worked hard on issues and wounds I dragged into a marriage that didn't last. 
Maybe its because I've really processed and healed from my divorce and not seeking a relationship as an emotional band aid. Maybe its because this season I feel so connected, deeply rooted emotionally 
and spiritually.
Honestly its a cocktail blend of all of them.

When I was still married, one of the things my counselor taught me to help me get through the day was choose certain truths to say out loud to myself every day. Being the control freak I can be, I took it a step further. #naturally

I set 3 timers on my phone throughout the day to go off. When they did, I stopped and repeated two things.

First, the Serenity Prayer.

And second, my own: "Jesus help me to see and love myself the way You do. I am a beautiful, strong, courageous woman and I am taking back my power to be emotionally and spiritually healthy."
Those words began to take root in me, and as I really prayed sat with them, I felt my tangled spirit slowly begin to untangle.

I have lived the majority of the first half of my life not knowing my daughter-ness before God.

But the second half of life is going to be much different because I know to my core my own daughter-ness, my place in the family of God.

And that is the best possible place to be and live in.



post signature

03 May 2017

Politically Frustrated (and Homeless)


We live in very interesting times culturally and politically in our country.

It can be so easy to get worked up over articles and Facebook postings (myself included). 
Sometimes on the interwebs things feel as rough as they did before the 2016 election...and that was before President Trump had control of the POTUS Twitter account. #pleasesomeonetakeitaway

But I was really disappointed at the end of last week as I started reading a lot on how officially the Democratic National Committee has stated they will only support pro-choice Democrats.

Cardinal Dolan who is currently the chair of the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities came out and strongly called them out on such intolerance. Anybody else feel like he reminds you of a jolly, smiley Santa Claus? 

Just me? Okay. :)

Sure it has been widely known for awhile that overall as a whole the Democratic party has led with a pro-choice card. But after the election, I guess it strikes me that they are coming out so guns blazing on such a critical life issue.



So what's a Catholic Christian supposed to do politically these days?


Anybody else feel politically homeless, or is it just me?



It is getting more tricky and difficult. I have a much harder time feeling good about the GOP. When Donald Trump is the best we've got that is kinda scary to me.

At the same time, I hate how boldly intolerant the Democratic Party is acting. 
I believe in supporting both an unborn baby and the mother, both lives have equal worth and value. 
Abortion is not good for anyone.

In a world where tolerance has basically become the 10th Commandment, Democrats are saying pro-life people are not welcomed and will not be supported as candidates on the Democratic ticket. 

It makes me wonder could this totally backfire on them? 
Could this draw more folks to the GOP?

I don't know and suppose only time will tell.


So what do YOU do?

I try to remind myself its always better to shut up and not lead with the reactionary (still working on that piece).

I make an effort to read and listen to people on both sides of the aisle.

I try to value honest, respectful dialogue over just being right.

I am grateful for lots of writings and documents of the Catholic Church that offer me some sanity in well balanced perspective on social teaching, morality, and ethics.


And at the end of the day, I remind myself I will never first identify with an ideology or political party. But rather my primary identification is striving to follow Jesus Christ in all aspects of my life. 
I don't do it perfectly and have a ways to go (just ask my family). 

But I ardently desire that identification to be the leaven in how I live my life, treat others, and do ministry.

Hopefully that is all our goal.


How do you wrestle through all this stuff with culture and politics in one hand and your faith in the other?



post signature

20 April 2017

Divine Mercy Taught Me How to Forgive

Sometimes there are seasons of life defined but certain lesson God is teaching us.

Recently I been in a season of mercy in life. And in the not so distant past, the Catholic Church celebrated the Year of Mercy.

Those two, plus my pilgrimage experience in Poland for World Youth Day last summer have been some powerful ways God has been working on me.


When Divine Mercy first became a "thing," I only liked praying the chaplet because it was faster and easier than praying the whole Rosary. Thankfully, I have grown up spiritually (some) since those days.


The beautiful image and devotion of Divine Mercy have taught me many things over the last year or so.




The mercy of Jesus Christ is the most powerful force in this world.
It can change our lives if we choose so.







Namely, Divine Mercy has taught me how to forgive...


READ THE REST OVER HERE ...




post signature

19 April 2017

What the World Really Needs from Women

I feel like there is lots of talk about women these days.

From Kellyanne, Hillary, and the popular #daywithoutwomen, and the list goes on and on.

There are many things in the culture today we're very confused about. Feminism and the empowerment of women are two that have been on my mind a lot lately.

I am ALL about the empowerment of women today. Some of it is really good stuff; some of the original suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony were pro-life women. 

I believe in the values of equal pay and rights for working women. I believe women should not be objectified and talked about as body parts or in ways deemed as "mere locker room talk." We need to stand up and defend women who are abused and robbed of their dignity.

Our world today is unknowingly aching for a true, beautiful reflection of the feminine genius that St. John Paul II spoke of with such love.




post signature

05 April 2017

365 later.

Life is really different than it was a year ago today.

A year ago today I wore a black skirt with a blue blazer. I walked into a court room with my parents. A judge asked me to verify I was not pregnant and if this marriage was beyond repair. I faintly uttered a soft "yes."

Later that night, I went out to dinner with my siblings. I was in the car and my brother-in-law reached  to the back seat and squeezed my hand and said, "You will be okay Patty. You'll be okay."



Even when I most have felt like I am not gonna be okay or that the sadness was too much, David was right. I am going to be okay.

Life feels uncertain in other ways, but I am going to be okay.



I'm living on my own (actually for the first time ever! #icecreamfordinner ;). 

I've been going to counseling and reading recovery books like its a second full-time job.

I am going to a divorce ministry training with some ladies from church in hopes to start a divorce recovery group where I work.

I am talking with a friend in hopes to work together to create some kind of presentation and/or supportive network to women in relationships where the man is addicted to porn...how to support and empower these women in a difficult situation.

I joined an awesome parish.

My annulment went through.

I am in regular contact with women around the country in a similar situation I was and meeting more Catholic women who have went through a divorce.



But sometimes I still get easily overwhelmed and want to jump in bed and pull the covers over my head. The past several days I've been riding the struggle bus.

Who am I kidding. I was DRIVING the freaking struggle bus...because why else would I eat a pint of ice cream on a Saturday night? 

Last night I called my Mom...cause sometimes you just need to talk to your Mom.
I blubbered and cried: I'm excited but really, really nervous to date again, struggling with loneliness sometimes, and facing disappointment of not getting a job I really wanted that I thought was God's will for me. 

I get anxious sometimes worrying how long it will take to pay off my school loans and wondering how the budget will balance each month or how long I'll have to live with things so financially tight.





Life is always evolving and changing and sometimes I feel like I cannot keep up. But then again its not my job to be in control of my life either.


A year ago today my prayer was to not let the hurt and sadness drown me. And it hasn't.

Today my prayer is the prayer of abandonment.


Father, I abandon myself into Your hands;
do with me as You will.

Whatever You may do, I thank You; 
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only Your will be done in me and in all Your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into Your hands, I commend my soul; 
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love You, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into Your hands without reserve
and with boundless confidence, for You are my Father.





So here's to living this more and more in each day...

And to whatever the next 365 days hold.



post signature
09 10