11 September 2018


Sunday, September 9th was my birthday. 

I was out of town the last few days, so I am just getting back in the swing of things. 

A few years ago I did a list of thirty-one things I wanted to do in my thirty first year. (You can read that list here, and last year's birthday follow-up that did not carry in consistency.) I wanted to do it again, with three more added.
So here it is:

My Thirty-Three Things 

1. Run Chicago Marathon.

2. Have at least five speaking gigs.

3. Lose 10 pounds.

4. Go to my Weight Watcher meeting every week.

5. Cook more frequently (and try new recipes!).

6. Pray the Examen each night.

7. Continue reading my Bible each day.

8. Go to a new European country (thinking about Austria, Switzerland, or Iceland). Or go back to Ireland.

9. Work on being less defensive and reactionary in relationships.

10. Organize special birthday celebration for my Dad's 60th birthday with my siblings.

11. Never miss an opportunity to say "I love you" or affirm those I care about in my life.

12. Keep asking for more of the Holy Spirit and to stay out of the way.

13. Get a book deal.

14. Learn more about my ancestry with 23andMe

15. Do a weekend away trip with Kevin and my parents.

16. Attend a silent retreat.

17. Regular Confession, at least every other month.

18. Drink more water, not just LaCroix.

19. Do more intermittent, water fasting.

20. Fast one day a week.

21. Make time to do things with my Dad, like going out to dinner together.

22. Have a visit with my friend Laura from California.

23. Attend a conference.

24. Do something special for Kevin's birthday.

25. Plan three surprise dates for us together.

26. Get back into regularly attending my weekly running group. 

27. Volunteer more often at my parish.

28. Attend a Bible Study.

29. Update my blog and get new head shots.

30. Nurture good rhythms of rest and work in my job. 

31. Be present, to whatever I am doing or whomever I am with. 

32. 15 minute pick-up every night before bed.

33. Pray the Rosary more frequently, start with one time a week.

post signature

29 August 2018

Why Pornography is a Feminist Issue

I am really excited to share with you an interview I did with Claire from The Catholic Feminist.

If you have been around here for awhile, you know my experience of a previous marriage has been affected by pornography and related things.

God has really used that experience of those years to make me stronger in so many ways.
Give a listen to my chat with Claire. 

If you or someone in your life needs to hear this conversation, please share it with them.

P.S. If you are not already subscribed to The Catholic Feminist, please go do that immediately.
Claire is doing some amazing work through her microphone.

post signature

21 August 2018

The Questions Every Woman Needs To Ask A Man

My counselor has this saying, "You know when you know it."

There are a lot of life lessons I wish I knew in my twenties when I was dating and before I got married. 

But here I am, almost 33, and now I know what I need to ask a man. I know what are things I will not tolerate, how I will not allow myself to be treated.

These insights, these questions are things I think all women need today in the world need to be brave and courageous in asking.

Today I am over at FemCatholic sharing on the questions all women need to ask men with whom they are in a serious relationship with.

No it is not easy, but these messy conversations are some of the most important ones we need to be having.

Head over to FemCatholic to read more . . .

post signature

19 August 2018

Where to Go From Here? Action, Repentance, Prayer, and Fasting

What an awful, terrible week it has been.

I am trying to pray about all the evil and brokenness coming out of the recent sex abuse scandals in the Church. But honestly it is really hard for me right now.

I alternate between rage and weeping. I have yelled and hollered at Jesus. 

I was only 16 when the scandal in Boston broke in 2002. While I didn't fully understand what it meant, I knew it was very, very bad. 

Now I am older, an adult Catholic practicing the faith. 
I have a more holistic, healthy spirituality and relationship with God.

But I, like so many Catholics, am very much struggling with horrific stories I have learned over the past few weeks at the lack of leadership.

All of this has rattled me and I am wrestling with it all.
Amid trying to pray and fast, I have taken to writing letters and calling offices of bishops and the USCCB. 

As the reality of what needs to change grows stronger, I want to share with you a few articles I have found helpful as I try to process it all. Also included are phone numbers to contact to express your voice demanding justice for the crimes committed.


An Open Letter from Young Catholics 

A Letter to my Bishop and A Letter to my Parish Priest by Molly Walter

What Can *WE* Do About the Abuse Crisis? by Haley Stewart

Dear Catholic bishops: This is not the time to play defense by Katie Prejean McGrady

The Church And Clergy In Crisis: 7 Practical First Steps We Must Take by Elizabeth Scalia 

An open letter to my Roman Catholic friends by Jeffrey Salkin 


You can contact the Archdiocese of Washington if you desire to ask for the resignation of Cardinal Wuerl. I plan to be making a phone call this week.

You can also call the USCCB at 202-541-3000. 

There is also a concentrated prayer and fasting effort organized by Catholic women through the internet. More on that as it goes live tomorrow...

Jesus, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Help us rid the rot of evil that has hidden for far too long.

09 August 2018

Codependent Red Flags & What You Can Do

I'm convinced every single human being has issues and probably at some point in life would benefit from going to counseling.

I still go for regular tune ups myself. 

One of the the greatest lessons I've learned about myself through that journey is how I have codependent tendencies. I most especially realized this after my divorce as I started diving deeper into my healing work. I read a lot of books that have helped me in this area.

While I am a few years past that chapter of life, I still find I have to live acutely aware how easily these tendencies can sneak up behind me.

What does it mean to be codependent?

If you're in a codependent relationship, you will find yourself basing your self-worth and sense of purpose on your partner's approval. Often times your life revolves around someone else in an unhealthy way. This can quickly become a dysfunctional cycle of sacrificing yourself for the sake of someone else's happiness, while often receiving very little in return.

Codependency is an unhealthy, chaotic dance you dance with another person, it could be a friend, family member, or significant other. In my life, I was in a very codependent relationship when I was married.

If you are new to understanding what is and is not codependent behavior, I would HIGHLY recommend you read everything on this topic by Melody Beattie. She is the guru and go-to person for the best of the best stuff on codependency.
Seriously, just do yourself a favor and read all her books.

Some red flags to consider?

  • You feel your happiness depends on another person
  • You are not able to say no to your partner
  • You struggle to focus on your own needs and lean towards people pleasing
  • You feel guilty for not helping others, sometimes this may look like mothering
  • You NEED to feel needed
  • You struggle (often a lot) with boundaries
  • You may struggle with communication
  • Your mood is dictated by your partner's behavior and actions (boy did I struggle with this one!)

This is just a sample, there are plenty more red flags.

What I have found in my own life, is self-awareness is key. Once I started to learn and understand what codependency was, I began to see how it played out in my daily life and relationships.

Once you can see things for what they are, continue educating yourself more. Read books (enter Melody Beattie). Consider finding a therapist to help you grow and learn new tools. Think about joining a support group like Co-Dependents Anonymous (CODA) to find support and practical tools for your life and relationships.

When we are able to identify unhealthy patterns, then we are able to deconstruct the chaos and entanglement in our relationships.

You are worth the time and work.

Healthy love (which I did not always know what that looked like) is about creating relationships that are inter-dependent and built on respect and honesty.

I know I still have codependent tendencies that creep in from time to time.

But I also know I am a lot wiser and stronger for growing through these issues.

post signature

25 July 2018

Living with the Effects of a Contraceptive Culture

We live in a world of cause and effect. The choices we make individually (and yes, as a society) bring about effects, some good and some bad.

50 years ago today Humanae Vitae was released.

I have spent a lot of time reflecting on where we as a Church and culture are at with the history and real story behind artificial birth control. 

I have discussed with priests and friends on how prophetic this document was and why its even more relevant now when we look around and see how sexually broken our culture has become.

The Sexual Revolution of the 1960's promised us more freedom and self-expression, but as a culture have a lot of sexual baggage, wounding, and pain.

In drafting this encyclical, Blessed Pope Paul VI did not intend to predict the effects of what contraception could do to marriage and sexuality. 

But I do find it very striking (and timely) that there are several effects that contraception would have on society.

Specifically, he writes that artificial birth control would lead to: 

"an easy path to marital infidelity, moral degeneration, a loss of man's respect for woman whereby he would no longer care for her physical and psychological well-being, governments would impose coercive methods of control that exhibit freedom in one of the most sacred acts, and mankind would think he has unlimited power over his body" (HV 17).

I think his words can be summarized in three specific effects that we live with in a contraceptive culture:

  • Martial infidelity and moral decline
  • Loss of respect for women
  • Abuse of power

Marital Infidelity & Moral Decline

In the past 50 years, we have seen a sharp rise in things like divorce, abortion, infidelity, and cohabitation. The impact of contraception on these issues is like pouring gasoline on a fire. 
Contraception has so trivialized the sexual act so that it exists free from any sense of responsibility. 
I do not think birth control has made us better people.

Loss of Respect for Women

All I am going to say is #metoo.

We are living in a time where we constantly hear about more and more women who have experienced sexual manipulation and abuse from men. Why is no one making the connection from a contraceptive mentality of "sex without consequences" and the disrespect for women as mere sexual objects for me to use?

And don't even get me started on the rampant pornography addiction in our culture. Or that now 46% of Americans think pornography is morally acceptable. That has increased so much physical and sexual violence against women.


Abuse of Power

It is very frustrating to see the promotion of contraception used as a "necessity" for charitable organizations working in foreign countries. People like Bill and Melinda Gates think contraception is what poor countries most needed in the development of poor countries.

Pope Francis denounces this abuse of power calling it "ideological colonization," where too often Western countries seeks to forcibly impose their sexual ethics on another country.

Sure you could easily say these effects have been caused by a wide variety of factors, but it is impossible to refute that they exist today. 

And I would say that a contraceptive mindset has added to these effects.

18 July 2018

Lessons I've Learned Living Alone

I remember growing up I thought I would do things exactly the way my Mom did in her life.

I thought I'd be married with a baby by the time I was 25 and live at with my parents until I got married. I envisioned my life looking very similar to her own. Obviously my life has turned out very different than I initially expected. 

Before I got married, I never lived on my own. After my wedding, I moved from my childhood home to the house I thought I would be building with my then husband.

After my divorce, I moved back home with my parents for about nine months to save money and get my feet on solid ground as I started looking for a new home for myself.

I moved into my new apartment on August 14, 2016, which also happens to be the feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. He is my spiritual BFF and his heavenly friendship has greatly blessed my life.

That first night in my apartment was such a mixture of emotions. I felt overwhelmed, anxious, excited, and nervous all rolled together.

I knew it would be a big transition learning how to live on my own for the first time in my life.

It has been almost two years, and I have found myself thinking about the lessons I have learned in how to live on my own over the last few weeks.

I needed to learn how to be comfortable in my own company

This was a lesson I never knew before I got married. I didn't know how to be comfortable with myself. On some level, I think I was always looking for validation or affirmation from others because of my own insecurities. I avoided facing my wounds and looked for ways that other people could help me feel more loved.

Moving into my own apartment at 30 was a real growth and healing opportunity. It helped me face things I had previously avoided in relationships or hidden in the depths of my heart. And living by myself, I had no option but to face them head on.

I think doing this has made me stronger and more emotionally healthy.

Loneliness is not something to run away from

This was probably one of the most messy, painful things to maneuver and work through after my divorce. 

Sometimes the loneliness just felt so overwhelming. While I knew this time around being in a relationship with a man would not fix me, I still wished there were times I didn't have to come home to an empty apartment or cook dinner by myself with no one to share the meal with. 

There were plenty of times I cried or journaled all the big feelings to help me deal with how I was feeling. I learned over time the only way to get through the mess is by going straight through it.

Eventually I came to a place where I realized loneliness is not something to avoid or run away from. It taught me a lot about myself and showed me how I used it to run away from facing bog feelings or emotions.

Even if its just me, I need to make my home beautiful and cozy 

Even if it was just me living in my apartment, I decided early on I wanted it to be a simple, beautiful, safe space for myself.

I took time to find the right frames for gallery walls. I spent time finding beautiful words to hang in my home and decorate in a way that made my home feel special to me.

Honestly it felt weird at first doing these things all by myself.

Over time I added news pillows, candles, hand painted signs. Each new little touch made my apartment become a home for me.

Have you ever lived alone before in your life? What were some of the lessons you learned through the experience?
post signature

22 June 2018

Where I Am & Where I've Come From

Today is an odd day.

June 22, 2012 was the day I got married. 

It feels weird to look back on a day that I thought would have been one of the happiest days of my life, is now just another day. 

The first year after my divorce I was a hot mess, but know I can look back on June 22 with peace and realization that it was not all that I thought it would be. And that is okay.

I often say I never would have imagined all that happened over these last six years, but I am so grateful for all that God has taught me about myself through it.

So this June 22, is just another Friday in June.

I am really excited for summer and have had some fun things going on the last few months.

The first weekend in May I went to Holland, Michigan for the Annual Tulip Festival. It was SO much fun and apparently the last time I went I was only two years old. 

There was a cute little parade through downtown Holland and I got to tour the oldest working windmill in the United States which was originally from Holland. Did I mention soaking up the beautiful scents of fresh tulips? #bestillmyheart.

In May, my mom and sister and I had a good ol' fashioned slumber party to watch the Royal Wedding. We were up at 4am and drinking both mimosas and coffee by 4:30. It was so much fun. I was quite pleased I went home with leftover scones and champagne.

I am starting to train for my second marathon on October 21 in Detroit. I have had two injuries which have slowed me down and thrown me off a bit. But I am coming back and my shin splints are healing well. #praisehands

Deep down, I dream of qualifying for the Boston Marathon someday. I am nowhere near that yet, and I just want to finish with a slightly quicker time this year. 

I was on the Fountains of Carrots podcast talking about divorce and annulment and in August I am so excited to on The Catholic Feminist.

I have had a few graduation parties for several of the teens in youth ministry from the church I used to work at. It has been so fun to celebrate them and catch up on all the wonderful things in their lives.

One of my dearest friends Lauren is getting married in August and her bachelorette festivities were in June. Lauren helped me for several years in youth ministry and we went to World Youth Day together in Poland. I am so excited to be a bridesmaid and celebrate her wedding on August 4th. :)

Love this girl.

What are your fun, exciting plans over the summer?!

I'll be working on writing project. In July, I am going to Chicago and am excited to see my uncle, aunt, and little cousin.

I hope you have some fun things to look forward to over summer.

Happy Friday, friends! :)

post signature

06 June 2018

The Man You Love is Addicted to Porn. Now What?

The effects of living in a highly sexualized culture continue to have devastating effects on both men, women, and our relationships.

When this painful reality was what I faced in my marriage, I was so frustrated initially because I did not know where to find help or get good resources.

I am writing over at FemCatholic today sharing resources to encourage and empower women who find themselves in these situations.

Even if this is not your reality, I would encourage to read and learn more because it is highly likely you know someone whose life or relationships have been impacted by this.


post signature

25 May 2018

Podcasts I'm Loving These Days - Newbies and Oldies

I love me some podcasts. 
Like a lot.

I feel like I am constantly editing what I subscribe to and am always on the hunt for new ideas.

So here is just a sampling of what is new that I am enjoying (plus a couple favorites I cannot seem to do without!)

For The Love with Jen Hatmaker  I have seen this one recommended in a few Facebook groups I am in right now. Jen does a 4 guest series rotation on a different topic. She has a variety of guests and discussions on everything from race, culture/spirituality, creative entrepreneurs, speakers, writers, etc. This is one I enjoy having in the background while I am making dinner or getting ready for work in the morning.

The Gathering Place  A brand-new podcast put on by Blessed is She. This has such a cozy, homey feel for me. It is only about 30 minutes, but it feels deep and leaves me thinking about the topic without dragging on too long. I love the conversational style and flow, and Jenna and Beth (the co-hosts!) have a different guest on each time to talk on a topic together.

What Should I Read Next? Okay, confession time. I listened to a few episodes of this when it first came out, but I didn't love it. Sorry Anne. BUT, about month ago I gave it another try and this time I am hooked. What I love most?

The crazy, good book recommendations I get and such a wide variety! I lvoe Anne's blog and giving this podcast another try was a good call for me, not to mention my read list continues to grow and grow.

Abiding Together This is a new-ish one to me. I actually heard about the first time from Debbie Herbeck last Fall when she and a team of young adults led the Confirmation retreat at the parish I used to work at. 

Led by three women (two married and 1 religious sister), I like the conversational style of this one as well. My favorite episodes so far have been the book study they did over Lent on Henri Nouwen's Life of the Beloved

Here are two of my favorite oldies:

Up First This one is my companion as I stumble into my kitchen each morning, ground my coffee beans, and get my French Press moving and grooving. Usually around 10 or 12 minutes, it gives a brief recap of the last 24 hours of world news.

Since I do not have a TV (I actually love not having one!), this is a simple way for me to be aware of what the heck is going on in the world these days.

On Being THIS is the podcast I tell everyone and their brother about. I love it. Krista Tippett is the host and has a wide variety of guests and conversations: religion, science, art, creative dreamers and doers, poets, movers and shakers of culture, etc.
This one always leaves me thinking and helps broaden my perspective of people and the world.

What are your favorite newbie or oldie podcasts?

Listening to anything particular good these days?

post signature

23 May 2018

Both Fierce and Tender: Insights from A New Marian Feast

I can be a bit of a loud person. Growing up, I never loved activities that required me to be sitting down. I was always on the move. I am a big feeler and an even larger verbal processor.

I have sometimes struggled with messages in the Church or from other people that to be female, to be a woman means you have to act a certain way. More specifically, that women are supposed to be mild mannered, gentle, tender, quiet. etc. That somehow quietness is better. 

It is almost as if sometimes there is an attitude that particular traits of women are more honored or recognized than others. (Now please don't hear this as a slam or negativity to women who are more quiet or even introverted).

I have often noticed this in the ways our Blessed Mother is talked about. Looking back on my life as a Catholic, I feel the majority of homilies I heard or talks on Mary often were connected back certain traits: her meekness, gentleness, tenderness, etc.

Now there is nothing necessarily wrong with those traits, in some ways I would use those words to describe myself at varying times.

When I think of Mary, I do think of words like tender or gentle (sometimes).

But those are not the only words that come to mind.

I think Mary was brave and courageous. I think she was fierce, and even a strong force in her own way.

Was Mary an introvert or extrovert? Honestly, we'll probably never know this side of Heaven. I like to think she was a mixture of both, and that she was a variety of traits.

There is no one way to be a woman, to be feminine.
It is not a one size fits all.

And similarly, I think there are many words we can use to describe Our Lady.
On this first celebration of a new Marian feast, Pope Francis said in his Monday morning homily:

"The Church is feminine. When this trait is lacking, the Church merely resembles a charitable organization, or a football team; when it is a masculine Church, it sadly becomes a church of old bachelors, incapable of love, incapable of fruitfulness."

And later on:

"The Church is feminine, because it is church and bride: it is feminine. And it is with this attitude that comes from Mary, who is Mother of the Church, with this attitude we can understand this feminine dimension of the Church."

I love hearing the Holy Father speak of this important, dynamic feminine nature of the Church. It needs to be explained and taught more.

To be a woman, to be feminine is not summed up in just a particular phrase or certain words.

Women can be both fierce and tender-hearted, both gentle and passionate. both quiet and spirit-filled.

Here a few places I am finding peace and growth in my understanding what it means to be a woman, to be feminine:
-Edith Stein
-The Catholic Feminist Podcast

What are ideas or people helping you understand your role in the Church as a woman? Who is teaching your heart right now and stretching you in your spirit?

post signature

17 May 2018

Woman, Know Thyself!

I have a good group of trusted friends. Women who I can call any time of the day or who make time to talk and pray with me when I need help or encouragement.

While these women are my earthly sisters, mentors, and friends, over the years there are several holy women whom I consider my "spiritual soul sisters." 

These women who have gone before me show me what it means to be a woman seeking the heart of Jesus through my dreams, passions, desires, and creative pursuits.

One such woman is Edith Stein, or St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Raised in a Jewish home, Edith eventually became an atheist. Highly intelligetn, she went on to study at a univeristy level where she eventually became a lecturer and philosopher. She lived a vibrant, creative as a single woman for a number of years before getting baptized Catholic and eventually entering a Carmelite convent. Her life was cut short when she was sent to the gas chambers at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.

Words I would use to describe her would be smart, articulate, passionate, creative, and self-aware.

Over the last year I have spent more more time reading biographies and writings of Edith Stein; specifically her essays on what it means to be a woman.

In a culture where there are so many mixed messages on what it means to be a woman, Edith offers women words that are beauty and truth on their worth, dignity, and place in the world. 

The older I get (I am a young 32 1/2 right now!), I am convinced that women today are hungry for deeper meaning in their lives. We are struggling to understand who we are called and created to be.

And that is why I am so drawn to Edith. 

Because she has something to say to each of us, no matter what our state or vocation in life. She challenges us to to embrace and come to a deeper understanding of the essence of who we are as women and how we can make a unique contribution to the world and those around us.

If I had a rally cry for what summarizes what Edith taught and believed it would be, "Woman, Know Thyself!"

One biographer of Edith put it in this way: "Before they can be ready to assist others, women first need to be securely anchored in their own depths."

What we need to possess is an inherent and soul-deep understanding of our dignity and worth as women in the eyes of God.

For Edith, this is only possible in the context of grace and through a life of interior prayer, silence, reflection, and inner detachment from the world. She modeled this in a way for me as a single woman in a way that is practical and non-shaming.

As a writer, lecturer, and philosopher, Edith was a woman of deep thought and her insights from the 1930's are even more relevant and applicable to women today searching for meaning, purpose, and joy.

So Woman (yes you!), know thyself!

Nurture your spirit and soul. 
Chase after your creative dreams and pursuits, even if it feels silly, make time for the things that fire you up and bring joy to your life.
Learn about what your charisms are.

Find out your temperament, Myers-Briggs, Enneagram type, and your love languages.
If you need it, go to counseling. Do your own healing work.
Make room for "breathing spaces," as Edith says and take time to rest in God.
Do not wait for your life to "start" until you get married or meet someone.

You are worth the time, energy, and focus of caring for and knowing yourself.

Are there certain ways you are being called to know yourself in a deeper way?

How can this "rediscovery" of yourself help you become more "anchored in your own depth"?

post signature

14 May 2018

Mending the Heart (A Book Review!)

I remember it very distinctly, the day I decided I could no longer stay in my marriage. 

It was the beginning of November, and the week of Thanksgiving I moved back home with my parents for a time as I figured out my next steps.

I felt like a failure and very relieved all rolled into one. I remember thinking, "What would people think of me once they knew? If the parish youth minister can't make a marriage work, well then who can? Would people judge my decision to leave without knowing the Hell I just lived through?"

I went through my divorce and the annulment process two years ago, and wish a book like this was around for me at that time.

I love the Catholic Church, but it makes my heart sad that we have had so few resources for men and women navigating the pain of a divorce. Not to mention there is still such poor understanding on what the Church actually teaches on divorce, annulment, and re-marriage.

Lisa Duffy, a well-known Catholic speaker and writer, has a brand new book releasing today. Mending the Heart: A Catholic Annulment Companion is such a gift to those who are divorced and contemplating going through the annulment process.

I was so honored to receive a copy to read and write a review for the book.

Even if divorce has never personally touched your own life, I think this book is a great thing for every Catholic to read. For your own understanding yes, but also because it is very likely you will come across people in your life who could benefit from these words.

One of the things I love most about Lisa's writing are her personal sharing and compassion in understanding the pain of divorce. She is very affirming that God sees and wants to bring healing even after something as traumatic as divorce:

"Despite all the heartbreak of losing your marriage, God wants to heal you."

"The pain I endured for so many years felt as though it should have killed me, and at times I thought it would. But it didn't If the pain and suffering is so terrible that it feels as though you'll die, but you continue to live, it means there is hope, there is a future, and God still has good things in store for you."    (Ohhhhh sister, do I relate to THIS!)

And it is because of this pain and hurt, Lisa writes, that the Church offers the annulment process: "...so that you can look beyond what a civil court has ruled and the social implications of divorce to what the actual spiritual reality may be." 

I think too often we sometimes forget the most important place to start in walking alongside people in pain, is acknowledging their wounds and hurt. So let us always begin there first, before you say anything else. 

Lisa does a great job giving a simple breakdown of the annulment process, which unfortunately can be very confusing for Catholic and non-Catholics alike: "Using the details you provide about your marriage relationship, the people involved in the annulment process - you, your ex-spouse, and the canon lawyers - can create a big picture scenario to determine whether or not a valid marriage was brought into being on the day of your wedding."

She does a great job explaining tricky concepts like the difference between valid and sacramental or what is a valid marriage bond.

Equally important as explaining the theology, is breaking down hurtful, insensitive myths regarding divorce and annulments. 

No, the Church is not saying your marriage relationship never existed.
The Annulment Process is NOT just a moneymaker for the Church. 
Getting an Annulment will make the children illegitimate. FALSE!

When we bust through these and other myths, I think it makes the hearts of people more receptive to the truth and beauty of what the Church teaches.

A sensitive, pastoral concern is the number of couples who are divorced, civilly remarried, and wanting to be in full communion with the Church. 

Lisa does a fantastic job explaining why the Church asks couples in these situations to refrain from Holy Communion: "First, the Church's standards are specifically set in place to help us achieve the happiness we search for all our lives. When the Church tells us we need to wait until the annulment process is complete and a declaration of validity or invalidity is made before getting married, she is actually looking out for our best interests, even if it seems really hard to wait."

Lisa also gives the reader a step-by-step walk through of the annulment process, which I think answers a lot of questions people have that can hold them back from even starting the process. She also explains the different grounds Canon Law gives that could decide a marriage is not valid.

One of the things I found most encouraging as a divorced woman myself, was the section on how to heal and move forward after the pain of a divorce. 

Lisa gives honest, practical ways for Catholic men and women to stay connected through to the Church and begin their own healing journey back to wholeness. Stay close to the sacraments. Honestly, I cannot imagine getting through this type of trauma without them.

I actually completed all my writing for the annulment questions in Eucharistic Adoration. Why not do the hard, heavy work with Jesus? He can totally handle it.

I have personally benefited from Lisa's other books and was grateful to attend a training she did on starting a divorce recovery group in parishes. 

It has actually inspired me to start such a group at the parish I currently work at and I have just completed training in my diocese to be a lay advocate. This means as a lay woman I can help people with their own annulments. 

The healing work I have done, the more it leads me to write and speak on my own experience and in some small way be an advocate to support women who were in very similar shoes I was in.

I am looking forward to helping others walk through the process, as it was so healing for me.

You can find out more about Lisa' writing, speaking, and personal coaching here.

Thank you for supporting her great work and ministry to the Church!

post signature

11 May 2018

3 Books You Probably Should Have Read By Now

Everyone has formed their own paradigms about God based on how they were raised or personal experience.

While the Word of God needs no additional supplement, I keep coming back to several books in my own life that have helped shape they way I see myself before God and who God is. And then, what that means on my role in the world.

Most of all, they've helped me heal in my own false perceptions of who God is and know deeper my own dignity and worth before the Father.

Whether you read one or all of these, I hope they will do the same for you as they have for me. I hope they challenge and inspire you to wrestle with God like Jacob, ask lots of questions, and allow God to tell you how He see's you, the Beloved one.

Life of the Beloved
Henri Nouwen

Nouwen is one of the people I am most excited to meet someday in Heaven. I sort of stumbled onto his books in college, but didn't really start to appreciate him until the last three or four years.

While I love Return of the Prodigal Son and The Wounded Healer, I keep coming back to this book.  Nouwen writes this book for a friend who does not have faith. Many people walk around caring wounds, shame, and feeling less than, but Nouwen writes this book to remind his friend (and each reader!) that Beloved is our identity, the only possible way that God looks at each of us.

"From the moment we claim the truth of being the Beloved, we are faced with the call to become who we are. Becoming the Beloved is the great spiritual journey we have to make. When our deepest truth is that we are the Beloved and when our greatest joy and peace come from fully claiming that truth, it follows that this has to become visible and tangible in the ways we eat and drink, talk and love, play and work."

It takes a lifetime to live and believe this truth. But this is a truth, a reality that so many women and men desperately need today.

Every time I come back to this book, there are fresh insights and realizations as if I am reading it for the first time.

The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way

This book a priest friend gave me after completing the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius during Lent one year.

The author is unknown. 

The book is the tale of an Orthodox Christian who is seeking what it means to pray, live a life of prayer, but specifically how to pray constantly. Coming from the Orthodox tradition, it keeps coming back to the simple power of the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, Have mercy on me a sinner). 

This pilgrim travels far and wide seeking out holy priests, spiritual teachers, and seekers whom will teach him in the ways of Christian prayer and meditation.

The pilgrim comes to realize one can prayer unceasingly at all times, particularly using the Jesus Prayer as a way to live prayer in all things.

I had heard of the Jesus Prayer before, but since then it has become one of my favorite ways to pray in the car.

On Becoming Human
Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier is new to me in a lot of ways, though I have heard of him before as the founder of L'Arche, an international network of communities for people with severe intellectual and physical disabilities. 

This is the type of book I think every human being should read.

Here, Vanier shares about his human vision for creating a common good in the culture that radically changes our communities, relationships, and ourselves. Vanier suggest to the reader that by opening ourselves up to outsiders, those we perceive as weak, different, or inferior, we can achieve true personal and even societal freedom.

He writes: "So to become human implies two realities. It means to be someone, to have cultivated our gifts, and also to be open to others, to look at them not with a feeling of superiority but with eyes of respect. It means to become men and women with the wisdom of love."

And later on in his introduction: "Peace will come through dialogue, through trust and respect for others who are different, through inner strength and a spirituality of love, patience, humility, and forgiveness.

What specifically is this book about? Vanier sums it up best when he says, "This book is about the liberation of the human heart from the tentacles of chaos and loneliness, and from those fears that provoke us to exclude and reject others. It is a liberation that opens us up and leads us to the discovery of our common humanity."

Like I said, just do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy.

What are books you think other people should have read by now? What would your top three be?

post signature

03 May 2018

A Faith-Filled Mother's Day Gift Guide

Mother's Day can sometimes be a painful holiday. 

Whether your Mom is gone, or you grieve the loss of never getting to hold your babies in your arms, it can bring up a lot of big feelings. I always say a prayer for those women whom this day is often difficult.

Whether you are a psychical mom or spiritual mom, here are some gift ideas at Blessed is She for celebrating the women in your life who are mothers or have been a mother to you in your own life.

Encourage Bible Memory Cards

These Bible Verse Cards are great for memorizing Scripture or send them as an encouraging note to a sister or girlfriend. I have hung mine from a shelf in my living room. When I have memorized those six cards, I will rotate six new ones in.

Catholic Journaling Bible

While I am not a terribly artsy or creative person, I have really enjoyed the extra wide margins to write notes or jot down thoughts while I am praying with my Bible. The extra space has been really helpful for me, especially as I am the type that loves to write in the Bible.

Saint Print Set

These and the Spring Prints are new. Good gracious, I LOVE the Saint Print Set. My favorite is Fiat, but in all honesty I will probably end up buying them all.

Liturgical Academic Year Planner 2018-2019

I really love this planner and I have tried several of the fancy big-name planners (Emily Ley and Erin Condren), but this is the most comprehensive I have ever used. 

I am most excited that the weekly grocery is perforated so I can tear it out from the planner and take it with me when I go grocery shopping. And for the first time we've rolled out a MINI planner, that is easier to carry around in your diaper bag, purse, or backpack.

Feminine Genius Tee

Women are such a gift to the Church, thanks Saint John Paul the Great for all your good words on the matter.

I am eagerly waiting for when this shirt will be available.

But I LOVE this one I wear frequently at home.

Marian Posters

May is the month dedicated to the Blessed Mother. And there are several Marian posters that would be a great touch of Mary for a woman you love. 

My favorites are the Memorare and the Morning Offering. I am currently trying to decide which one to buy for my bedroom.

Hope some of these idea's spark your imagination to share beauty and truth with women in your life this Mother's Day.

And thank you for supporting my writing by using affiliate links. :)

post signature

26 April 2018

Humanae Vitae 50 Years Later: Have We Learned Nothing?

In graduate school, my favorite classes I took were ones on Scripture, particularly on the Old Testament. 

In one class, we carefully studied many of the major and minor prophets. It really grew my appreciation for these writings, as well as understand the culture and historical times the authors wrote in. 

As a result, I became kind of fascinated with the prophets. Specifically the idea, that certain women and men who were agents of God to speak truth and work in mighty ways.

Prophets were not just people from Biblical times. I think we as a Church have seen many prophetic men and women: Mother Teresa, Ghandi, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, etc.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae this July, I find myself reflecting on how Pope Paul VI was a prophet of his own time, though he was greatly disdained for re-affirming what the Church teaches on contraception.

The history of contraception is much deeper and darker than most people would think.
From the eugenic policies of Margaret Sanger to treating pregnancy and fertility as a disease that needs to be fixed, birth control has not helped women as originally thought.

The fact that the Catholic Church has not wavered on this teaching is perhaps the most disagreed, misunderstood teaching among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. 

Up until 1930, all Christian denominations denounced the use of artificial birth control. At the Lambeth Conference, Anglican bishops argeed to allow the use of artificial contraception for the case of married couples. It was after this conference, all other denominations followed suit.

The Catholic Church remained the lone ranger. 

And in 1960, Pope Paul VI re-affirmed why the Church teaches as she does in this matter. And he got SLAMMED. The dissent from many Catholic clergy and lay people was heartbreakingly sad.

But I truly believe what the Holy Father said was prophetic.

Just like in the Old Testament, they hated, slandered, or even tried to kill prophetic women and men. 

Even if you have not or don't plan to read Humanae Vitae (but I think you should!), let's just and look and see where we are as a culture 50-60 years later after birth control became as common as cream in your morning coffee.

50% of marriages end in divorce.
Statistics show the average age a child is exposed to pornography is anywhere from 7-10.
Sexual promiscuity is rampant. 
The side effects of birth control are very negative to a woman's health.
Women are treated as objects and sexual violence has grown rapidly.
Men are raised in a culture of toxic masculinity.

The sexual revolution of the 1960's along with promotion of artificial birth control promised more sexual fulfillment and wholeness.

But we live in the most broken, sexually addicted culture. 

It causes me to think how right Pope Paul Vi was, how prophetic his words would become even if he grossly disdained for it.

Have we learned nothing?!

As Humanae Vitae's 50th anniversary approaches, I want to challenge my generation to revisit this often grossly misunderstood teaching.

I pray people of goodwill will come to see this teaching as pro-woman and empowering to women (which it actually is).

I pray we actually revisit the history of contraception and see if for what it actually is.

And I pray we see a contraceptive mindset and attitude for what it truly is and to stop glorifying it.

post signature
09 10