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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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.


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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 :)

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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.

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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?

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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...


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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.

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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.

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24 March 2017

Silence or Why I Need to Shut Up More

I remember like it was yesterday.

In college I got very involved in a local Catholic campus ministry program. The priest who oversaw it was Fr. Brendan Walsh. He is from Ireland and has been one of the greatest spiritual influences in my life so far. I even got to go on pilgrimage groups with him to Medjugorje and Ireland.

One time I arrived for a holy hour of Eucharistic Adoration before Mass. I came dragging a bag of books, my Bible, and journal.

He looked at me, saw my stuff and smiled saying, "Patty dear, you talk to much at God. You have to stop talking and shut up. That way you can hear God better."

Yup the priest told me to shut up. Stop flapping my gums in mindless prayer.
Don't just yammer at Jesus. Listen to Jesus...just be with Him.

Over the years, I have still teased him about it. But the older I get and more I grow in my relationship with God, I see how right he was in telling me that.

Last week again a similar type experience happened while I was on silent retreat. But this time, the insight came from one of my best friends (who happens to be a priest) and was my spiritual director.

We were meeting for daily direction. I would receive my Scripture passages to pray and meditate with for the following day.

One day I came in sharing how Jesus was pointing out to me how controlling I can be with Him as well as in my daily prayer life. #humbledmuch ? 

I started sharing how uncomfortable that made me feel to acknowledge this. I began to see all the ways I don't let God be God, the ways I try to be God. I had to start to realize when I start to regiment and put God in a box, that never goes well.

While I love Jesus a lot and want to live my life for Him, I also am apparently controlling. 

As I shared this with my friend, he started smiling ear to ear.

"Patty are you really surprised?"

"Everything you do is fast and quick and certain. You talk fast, you write fast, you read fast, you walk fast....your power walking leaves people in the dust!"

Geez. What is it with priest's calling my bs?!  ;)

One the blessings of taking time to go on retreat is that you get uncomfortably outside your comfort zone and daily routine. And when we do that, when we make the space for God intentionally we put ourselves at a better disposition to hear His voice.

I want to get better at making more space for God in my life. Not the kind where its like checking off a box on a goal-planning sheet. But the kind of space that helps me re-arrange my life, attitude, and perspective.

I want to make more time for silence in prayer.

I want to have more silence in the car, puttering around my apartment, and life in general.

I want to have open hands with Jesus. 

I do not want to be God in my life. I want to let God be God.

I want to shut up more in prayer, like Fr. Brendan sweetly challenged me when I was in college.

I am in a season right now where God is reminding me of lessons I need to constantly return back to.


Letting go of control.


I am fairly certain it will not be the last time God has to remind me I am being controlling or a priest telling me I cannot just talk at Jesus.

But deep down I am grateful for these lessons and reminders.

Because I know I really do want to live my life for Jesus...and more and more each day I realize He is the thing that only really matters in the end.

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22 March 2017

The Ministry of Name Asking

I have been attending weekly worship my whole life.

I have worshipped with people in different languages and on different continents.

The majority of my church experience has been in mostly white, suburban Catholic churches.

But recently I have noticed a particular ministry often missing from other Catholic churches I have attended or visited. 

The ministry of name asking.

Since mid-November, I have been attending Mass on Sunday at small, vibrant inner city parish in Detroit, St. Augustine and St. Monica.

I started here with the idea of visiting all the different Catholic churches in Detroit between then and Lent. But somehow I didn't get much farther than the first few times I visited this particular church.

It is something very, very special. Passionate preaching. An incredible Gospel choir. Lots of cultural diversity. And a sense of welcoming community that often is hard to find in some suburban parishes.

The thing that most struck me that first Sunday I attended was the 5 people who came up and asked me my name. They noticed I was a stranger, that I was sitting by myself in the church.

Bob the older gentleman gave me the biggest hug at the Sign of Peace (which takes 15 minutes here because people walk around and hug each other!). Hermann the adult altar server said, "Hi my name is Hermann! I have never seen you before here. Welcome!" Three sweet older ladies came up, asked my name (without ever telling me their names!), and told me they love when visitors come.

I have fallen in love with this sweet community. 
And for me it all started with friendly smiles and the ministry of name asking.

One of my favorite Gospel stories is when Mary Magdalene is at the empty tomb. 

She is weeping, and so hysterical she mistakes Jesus for the local gardener. But when Jesus calls her name, "Mary" she realizes whom is actually standing before her. Whenever I read this story, I am always left wondering at the power of names. I think about the beauty when we hear God call us individually by our name.

The ministry of name asking and warm smiles is not one I see done really, really well in suburban churches sometimes. No, I am not saying you need to join an inner city church to find the best spiritual home.

But for me it is found in a small community on the east side of Detroit. 

My experience at St. Augustine and St. Monica has reaffirmed to me the power of calling people by their name; whether thanking by the name the guy at Kroger who bags my groceries or the gas station attendant who gives me my change.

Call people by their name.

Do so with a warm, friendly smile.

Yes these are small things. But small acts of love can make a big difference.

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20 March 2017

When God says you're too controlling (aka retreat reflections)

Yup God told me I am too controlling. #truestory

Last week I went on a 5 day silent retreat. I was going through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. They are typically done over 5, 8, or 30 days. If you've never done them I would highly, highly recommend it.

I was really excited but nervous and anxious at the same time. For a very type A, loud -mouthed extrovert, 5 days of silence was going to be "interesting".

It was hard at times for sure (like the hissy fit I threw when the priest asked for my phone #yupthathappened).

At the same time, I couldn't imagine a better time to do it than in the middle of Lent.

I've been on retreats before but never the spiritual exercises. And it was both spiritually and mentally exhausting as well as refreshing.

God really convicted my heart of several pet sins I have grown to easily accustomed to. I realized yet again how noisy and loud my life is. I experienced sorrow in my heart during one meditation when I just wept for all the things in my life that hurt my friendship with Jesus. I wept (a lot) over excuses I have made for myself.

And yes God told me I was too controlling in our relationship and my daily prayer life. 

One evening meditation I was given to pray with was Psalm 63. The very beginning of the Psalm starts off, "O God, You are my God." That part stopped me dead in my tracks.

I had to really sit with the fact God often is not God in my life, I try to be God. 

And throughout the week, this issue of my control issues kept coming up in my reflection and other Scripture passages I prayed with. It came up when I had a full on hissy fit when I gave up my phone. And later in the week when I received really disappointing news of not getting a job I so very much wanted; I realized I tried to control getting what I wanted to happen.

Throughout the week, I kept asking Jesus to show me where I am controlling with Him...what are the ways in life I am controlling? Ask and ye shall freaking receive!

That is the hardest, but most beautiful part of silence. You cannot run away from the truth that wells up inside you. You cannot run away from yourself or what God is whispering in your heart. You have to face your all your stuff head on, there is no way to escape it.

Friday morning I was driving to my last daily spiritual direction appointment. I was feeling really sorry for myself and still hurt and confused why I didn't get this job. 

I was driving along and asked Jesus out loud, "What are you trying to teach me with getting this news right now?" I sat in silence most of the ride, and in my heard heard, "You're not in control sweetie."
The image that came to mind as I heard those words deep down was Jesus just gently rubbing my head as He spoke to me.

You're not in control sweetie.

No I am not. I never have been. And maybe for the first time in my life I am realizing that.

And that is has been hard, exhausting, refreshing, and eye-opening all in one.

But that is the thing. God is always a gentleman. He never shames us. If we hear that voice of shame or condemnation creeping in, it is never Jesus but always Satan. #gobacktoHellwhereyoubelong !!!

These 5 days helped me become really honest and vulnerable with myself and more importantly God. 

I have a new, more refined perspective on some things in life. I will be on that journey till the day they put me in the ground.

But the beauty of this time away is I cannot un-learn what I have learned about myself or heard God speak to me.

I am learning how to really have open hands with God and not be grabby where I am so attached to what I want for my life.

That can be an awkward place to be. But for me right now, it is the best possible place to be.

Jesus, please help me to live my life with open hands. I want You to be God. I don't want to be God.
I want You to be in control over all.

Just help me to get out of Your way.

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09 February 2017

There is No Grey Area for Abuse & Misogyny

There has been a lot of talk about women in the news lately.

The Women's March in DC (and other sister marches around the country) and the March for Life shortly afterward. Then of course there are all those disgusting things the President has said about women. #gross

Women's rights, empowerment, and equality are certainly not bad. Some of it is awesome and really good stuff. I am all about the empowerment of women today.

But let's not be all about championing women's empowerment and then waltz over to the theater to see 50 Shades Darker opening tomorrow.

We live in a culture that is horrible confused and screwed up when it comes to a healthy understanding of love, sex, and relationships.

Apparently the sexual revolution of the 1960's was to make us happier and more free.
From where I sit, I don't see much more sexual freedom.

What has it gotten us?

A pornography EPIDEMIC.
1 in 3 women is a victim of sexual abuse.
50% divorce rate.
Crude sexual humor is tolerated, widely accepted, and deemed as "mere locker room talk."
Women and children are bought and sold into sexual slavery.
Terms like "Mommy Porn" in relation to movies like Magic Mike (aka stripping men).

Movies like this illustrate to me how wrong we've gotten it. 
Sexual abuse, manipulation, coercion are never something to be tolerated, let alone glamorized. Misogyny and mis-treatment of women (and children) is something we as a culture should not settle for.

We don't know what the Hell we are doing. And maybe as a society we haven't for a long time.

All the sexual pain, brokenness, and abuse we see play out in the world is connected and it affects us all. 

In our own way, let's not be silent about it.

Let's not support it.

Let's not tolerate it.

Because "that stuff" never empowers women. 

And it certainly does not honor the dignity and beauty of woman.

I don't know what your plans are this weekend. Personally I need to tackle two baskets of laundry that have been staring at me for a week.

Whatever your plans, please don't confuse talk of empowering women and marching in the streets to watching this movie or supporting this attitude at large in the world.

Because crap like this doesn't support or honor all that women have and are in the world...

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06 February 2017

Three Books That Actually Changed My Life (and that every woman needs!)

Over the years, I have went to counseling on and off at different times. Counseling is great thing, and at some point in life I think everybody should go. We all have issues and baggage to work through. Why not face it and use it as a growth opportunity?

The woman I currently see I have been with for 3 years-ish. She has challenged me in more ways I can count and helped me work through stuff in ways I never knew I needed. Continuing to work with her is one of the best ways for me to heal and be better prepared for a future relationship someday.

There are three specific tools, or books we have used in our time together that have been absolute game-changers in my own healing and self-discovery.

Disclaimer: No I don't think self-books are all we need to heal and work through our issues but there are a tool in our toolbox; one way to help us face the painful, even traumatic stuff in our lives.

Hi my name is Patty, and I am recovering codependent. #truestory

I spent about a year working through the above workbook, which is also accompanied by this book. In terms of counseling, this is what I am just finishing reading and working on. 

Both books are very, very good, but also quite painful at times because it goes into the nitty-gritty of past abuse and/or trauma which lead to codependency. 

So what exactly is codependency?

According to author Pia Mellody, codependence as "the lack of those functional internal habit patterns regarding the body, thinking, feeling, and behavior that are necessary to be a mature adult of having healthy relationships and finding a reasonable level of comfort in life."

Codependents have difficulty:

  • experiencing appropriate levels of self-esteem
  • setting functional, healthy boundaries
  • owning and expressing their own feelings
  • taking care of their needs and wants
  • expressing thoughts and feelings moderately
Mellody, herself a recovering codependent, goes into great detail about each symptom and how it plays out in and affects our lives. She helps the reader dig deep, really.deep. Working through this with my therapist helped me look at my childhood honestly, acknowledge and work through past abuse and trauma, and untie all the unhealthy knots to learn how to be in healthy relationships with others. Its like I'm giving a future relationship a complete detox of all the unhealthy I used to function out of.

Highly, highly recommend. 

I come to realize I've had some very faulty, idealistic idea's about love and relationships. Sure all those Disney movies and happily-ever-after stories probably don't help, but I cannot blame it all on that.

Looking back on all dating relationships and to some degree my relationship with men has not been healthy. Much of it seemed from my own neediness, emotional insecurities, low self-esteem, and falling in love with the idea of being in love. Just looking back at how my perspective has changed over the last year has blown me away.

This book is based off the 12 Steps and has lots of exercises and journal prompts to make you think. 

I can look back and see what were the unhealthy dynamics present in past relationships. It can feel a little embarrassing to of course learn this all after the fact of going through a divorce but I'm not gonna beat myself up about that either.

You know what you know when you know it.

And I know a lot more about myself which is only going to help me in my future.

Very good read, not as triggering as the previous workbook and accompanying book.
Very practical.

I stumbled across this book quite by accident right before the holidays. It wrecked me.

Shame is one of the most powerful, deadly lies Satan can get us to believe about ourselves. It can sneak in and take over your mindset and what you think about yourself.

Herself an abuse victim and passionate Christian, Christine breaks down the hidden consequences of shame and the effects of it in our lives. She breaks down powerful Biblical truths in strong and mighty ways.

This book surprised me. It was like the cherry on top of a delicious ice cream sundae, the finishing touches of many other things I have been learning and wrestling with.

Very easy, yet powerful read. Every woman needs to read this book.

I hope you check out these books and find them as helpful and life-changing as I have. If you ever get a chance to read them, send me an e-mail and let me know what you think of them!

Do you have any life-hanging books to recommend? 

What have been game changers in your own personal story?

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