24 December 2012

6 Lessons from the first 6 months

June 22 was the beginning of an adventure, and here we are six months into this crazy, hard, wonderful thing called marriage.  There has been yelling and arguments, laughter and hugs...and somehow with God's help, we are learning how to work together and be a family.

I have to admit though, I really thought I was one of those people who didn't have those dreamy expectations of marriage.  You know, thinking that it was all going to be roses and sunshine.  I have had many a conversations with my married friends and many a good talks with my mom on how to make a marriage work.  But once we started the daily routine of just living together as husband and wife, I realized how MUCH of a personal choice it is to make this work.  I can choose to be grumpy/cranky after a long week of work when Jim doesn't get the chores done that I ask him or choosing to let him watch his favorite show instead of complaining when we don't get to watch another episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" for the millionth time.  It's a choice everyday.  A choice to die to myself out of love for another or be the selfish, whiny, sass-pot I more often than not have a tendency to be.
So anyway here's what I'm realizing/learning very early on in the game.

1.  It's not ALL about having a perfectly clean home 24/7
Probably within the first week of getting home from our honeymoon, I said to Jim one night at dinner, "Okay, now we have to get on a daily/weekly cleaning schedule."  Poor guy, he looked at me like I had 5 heads.  Let's just say that I'm the one that's all about having a routine in our home, where as Jim is the more relaxed, laid back, spontaneous one.  But I have noticed and am realizing sometimes I get all worked up about our home not always being "perfectly clean."  And no we are not living in filth, but I am realizing that sometimes I get a little carried away.  It will not kill me if a sink of dishes waits to be cleaned the next day; however, if it sits there for a week, then that's another story.  One way we are working on this together is having something every evening called a "15 minute pick-up."  For 15 minutes before we head to bed, we spend the time doing a general clean-up around the apartment: finishing the dishes, picking up laundry, taking out the trash, etc.  So far it is working good for us, and a little way to help me not be so crazy anal retentive about the up keep of our home.  Go Team Hubbard!

2.  Don't go to bed angry/Leave for work without the "I'm Sorry's"
I do NOT like going to bed mad at each other or leaving for work being mad at each other either; kinda sucks.  Majorly.  Anger left unaddressed, even if over something little, just breeds resentment and cranky feelings.  Which is not a good way to head off to dream land or start a busy day at the office.  We have had a few occasions where we went to bed giving each other the silent treatment or heading off to work with few words to each other.  And we are both learning how that really does suck, and does nothing to solve the disagreement we are having.  That old saying, "Don't let the sun go down on your anger" is very true, and we are learning through trial and error how true it is. :)

3.  I REALLY showed have paid more attention in learning how to cook
Growing up, my Mom tried to teach me basic cooking skills, knowing someday when I was married or out on my own, I would be able to cook.  It is has been an ongoing joke for quite some time in my family, that my cooking ability consists of heating a Lean Cuisine frozen dinner or pouring milk into a bowl of cereal.  And know that I'm married, I'm realizing that I REALLY should have paid more attention when my Mom tried to drum up my interest in cooking skills 101.  When my Mom and I have our bi-weekly lunch dates, one of her first questions is, "What new recipes have you tried making for dinner?"  More often than not, I'm just smiling at her saying something like, "Ohhh Mom." ;-)  Jim is usually preparing main parts for dinner, like cooking the meat...BUT I'm a great salad maker ;-)  And off course if he makes most of dinner, I step up to do the dishes.  BUT with the help of a wonderful online thing called "Pinterest" I'm quickly acquiring an assortment of tasty recipes to try my hands out at.  Most recently I made some appetizers for Thanksgiving and a bunch of fancy holiday treats for a Christmas party I had a few weeks ago.  And for Christmas Eve dinner, I'm making a fancy breakfast buffet of yumminess.  Practice makes perfect, and I'm slowly working on my cooking skills.  But for real.  Mom, you were right...I should have paid better attention all those years you tried helping to teach me things :).

4.  The family that prays together stays together
Neither of us claims to be saints...we are both very much "works in progress."  But there really is something to be said about praying together as a couple.  And no I'm not talking about walking around with your head bowed in deep contemplation 24/7 or acting like you are "holier than thou."  But I'm just talking about bringing God into your marriage and family life...like praying together as a couple in any/all decisions.  We're not great at it (praying together), but we keep pluggin away at it.  Even if its just praying over each other for 5 minutes before we head off to bed, every little bit helps and adds up.  And every time we do pray together, I am reminded how much it is like super glue for our relationship.  Yay prayer.  Yay Jesus :)

5.  We need to make decisions together
Okay, this one may sound quite obvious to some of you.  But for me, I have found myself sometimes slipping into the habit of making decisions for both of us without consulting the hubster; like buying a piece of art to hang up in the apartment or making plans for the weekend without asking Jim for his input or "deciding" where to arrange things in the apartment or picking names for future kidlets.  I think part of this comes from selfish tendencies, and also just being used to for so long being able to do things my own way.  But know we be a family, a team...and there is no 'I' in team.  Jim has pointed this out to me several times, and the weird thing is I didn't even notice I was doing it...but like in all these things, it's a work in progress :)

6.  Still make time to "date each other"
Our lives are both pretty busy between work and graduate school...but it is still important to make time for each other, to still date each other.  It doesn't always have to involve money.  It can be something as little as having a marathon of watching all the Christmas episodes of "The Office" or leaving little love notes around the apartment for each other or sending a text message during the day "just because" or taking a Rosary walk in the woods behind our apartment complex.  It's the little joys that add up to create a happy, healthy marriage.  :)

If this is what the first six months has been like, I cannot imagine and wait to find out what the future holds :)

"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."
-Song of Songs 6:3

07 December 2012

Suffering, Hope, and Being a saint

Wednesday night I went to Mass.  I have been trying to do some extra things to help ready and prepare myself for Christmas...so I figured an extra dose of the Eucharist was a pretty good option.  The church I went was of full of little kids from Religious Ed and their parents.  Sometimes there are those homilies that stop you dead in tracks, and make you think, "Wowzers!" So last night was one of them nights for me. Two big things that made me think, read on and you shall see:)

The priest started talking about the first reading from the prophet Isaiah (25:6-10) see HERE for the actual reading.  He started talking about how there is a lot of suffering in the world; far away and right here in our own communities.  Right here in the southeastern part of Michigan, two specific families come to my mind when I think of recent hardship and suffering.

Officer Patrick O'Rourke was a police officer who was shot and killed at the beginning of September.  He left behind a lovely wife and four young kids.  From what I have heard, he was a guy who loved his job, was devoted to wife and kids, and a faithful Catholic.  Now these kids are left without a Daddy; a big hole has been left in their lives.  His wife writes daily at a Facebook page dedicated to the memory of her husband.  Her strong, unwavering faith are an inspiration to me and the 14,000 some people that follow her (if you need some inspiration, seriously give Amy O'Rourke a read here) ... but, WHY?

A 15 year old boy named David died the beginning of this week from a local all boys Catholic school.  He sounded like the go-to guy; great friend, well liked among his peers, and an awesome talent for sports.  The cause of his death is unknown and now his parents are preparing (if they haven't already) to bury their young son.  WHY?

Why does God allow suffering??  Plain and simple, he doesn't want it...but we live in a fallen world and if God gives us the personal freedom to choose to love him, he has to allow people freely choose to not love him (hence all the sin, sadness, suffering, etc.)
amazingly enough our God has made it that he destroyed death, it has no freaking power over us!  Death cannot, does not win!  The Lord will wipe away all the tears of all those who weep and are sorrowful and down cast.  Jesus is SO close to those who suffer and in pain; for he knew truly what it mean to suffer.  His suffering can help us unite our own to his.  I think (just me speaking here) the fact we have a God who truly knows what it means to suffer, helps us along our own trials and pains in life.  No it doesn't completely take it away the pain and frustration and anger, BUT I cannot help but think that going through those valleys with God in some strange, mysterious way has the potential (if we be open to it) to draw us closer to him.

I found it to "interesting" that each week of Advent represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus.  Week 1/candle 1 represents HOPE.  These are just 2 situations I know of where these families/people need some hope.  We all need some hope in life...I mean just watch the local news at night!  One of my most favoritest quotes is from Pope John Paul II, "Do not abandon yourselves to despair.  We are the Easter people and Hallelujah is our song!" We cannot abandon ourselves to despair!  We must be a people of HOPE.  Just like the candle of this first week of Advent reminds us...

(so all that was the first thing that caught my attention...below is the second thing...)

The priest giving the homily on Wednesday night said something that made me think (here it comes!).  Someone had sent him an e-mail saying that when a priest went to the bedroom of this young man to pray for his soul and with his family, they discovered his bedroom was not like a typical teenagers full of posters of favorite stars or athletes (although those things are not bad either).  They found his Bible and rosary on his bedside table, a crucifix hanging above his bed, and the image of Jesus hugging a baseball player on the wall.  And they the priest said, "you know what's different about David? He didn't wait to become a saint."  Although his life was short, he didn't wait to work on his relationship with God, he took advantage of the one life God gave him to make a difference in this crazy, beautiful world...he took Jesus' call on his life as a disciple seriously.  So then I started thinking about my own life.  First of all, I think sometimes people have this false notion on what it means to be a saint.  Being a saint doesn't mean you are on your knees in prayer for 5 hours a day or walk around with your hands folded and head bowed down....being a saint means recognizing that you quite haven't got your stuff together all on your own, but instead you go to Jesus for more.  One time a friend of mine shared this story from the religious education class she teaches.  In this particular class, they were talking about saints and what it means that each of us is called to be a saint.  So my friend asked her students, "What does it mean to be a saint?"  One little girl raised her hand and said, "I know, I know! I learned from the stained glass windows in church-to be a saint means you let the light shine through." I loved that story and think it sheds light (pun intended ;) on the true meaning of holiness and striving to be a saint.  Striving to be a saint is hard work; it needs to be ongoing through one's entire life....but let THE light (aka Jesus) shine through you...just like how light shines through a stained glass window and illumines the picture and the inside of the church.  And when we strive and keep working in our daily lives to let the light shine through us, that's what being a saint is all about.  Never give up on it...always keep working at it...and don't wait to the end of your life.

So in conclusion?  
1. Pray for those who are suffering (emotionally, physically, or spiritually) that you know of personally and even those you don't know personally this holiday season. 

2. Never lose HOPE!  Cause let's face it, in the end, our guy wins the battle :)

3. Don't wait to be a saint! start today :)

12 November 2012

How an invite from a local mega church inspired me...

... to become a better Catholic.  Yup, that's right.  This is a really great story and led to some fascinating realizations in prayer for me.

So one day last week, I'm getting the mail on my way home (Jim always forgets to do so, but we still like him:) and I pull out this little mailed flyer from a local mega church nearby.  It contained a friendly note from their senior pastor, info about their Christmas services, and dates/times for a Christmas production (we are talking Broadway production here folks!) they host every year to reach people and draw them into their community.  It  was very well done, and definitely an awesome idea to evangelize to the wider community.

And it struck me.  We Catholics could take a lesson here from our Protestant brothers and sisters in terms of evangelization. 

Let's face it our modern world is in a crisis; a crisis of identity, morals, and faith.  Speaking from a Catholic tradition, it seems that many Catholics are "sacramentalized" but not "evangelized."  Sure we can rattle off prayers from memory like the Nicene Creed or the Glory Be.  Yes many of us have received our first holy communion and Confirmation, but we are not effectively evangelized many times.  We know the head knowledge of our faith, but not the person whom our 2,000 year plus Church is founded upon.  We need to bring people to JESUS!  To help folks have a personal relationship with Him, to fall in love with Him, to give their whole lives away to Him by choosing to proclaim the Gospel with reckless abandon.  When people personally know who Jesus is, then we teach and help others appreciate all the rich treasures that exist in the Catholic Church (and there's a TON, fyi). 

If you are Catholic, listen up.  The time is NOW.  Proclaim a person to people...Jesus!  Don't preach the Church, preach about a person (through your love, compassion, forgiveness, life witness, and everyday actions) who will drastically change your life.  Statically, majority of Catholics are no different than the rest of the world; a majority are living a "practical atheism."  Many are not living lives of intentional discipleship.  All of us need to do our part.  If you have been baptized, then you are a missionary; have been given a mission.  The mission field is our work places, our homes, families, friends, and even strangers.  Our mission is to bring Jesus into the world/our culture through our own unique vocation, gifts, and talents.  Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once commented, "The first word of Jesus in the Gospel was 'come'; the last word of Jesus was 'go'."  We have to GO out into the world we live in!

In the last month, there was a huge gathering of Catholic bishops and cardinals from all over the world at the Vatican.  The meeting was based on the how the Church can and needs to effectively address the modern world through "the new evangelization.  Now when many of us hear the word "evangelization" we primarily think of people who have never heard the Gospel message before.  But the Church has been using the term "new evangelization" for quite some time now.  No this is not a "new" type of evangelization, but more of a "re-newed" effort of the Church to RE-evangelize peoples/nations/the world who have had a Christian background, but are not living as active, committed disciples...because they need to experience a DYNAMIC relationship with the living Jesus.

Okay, so anyway...back to the invite from this mega church.  I was thankful for this invite in the mail; it was a little spiritual kick in the butt to remind me of the great importance for me to do my part to help evangelize the world.  By virtue of baptism, we are all on a mission (insert here mission impossible theme song :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtyByefOvgQ ).  My mission
 is to know Jesus and help make Him known and more loved in this world.

So those realizations I mentioned in the beginning???

1.  I have to know my Catholic faith; to study it and be able to articulate well in a culture that is growing more hostile to Christianity.  To be able to speak the truth in love, and ONLY in love.  St. Peter sums it up so perfectly in his letter, "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame." (1 Peter 3:15-16)  I must always be ready to defend and explain the faith, but in love, gentleness, and reverence...

2.  I need to be creative with bringing the Gospel into the world; to take advantage of many wonderful tools in technology and the media to help make the message more relevant and meaningful to people I meet, work with, and minister to.

3.  When people see me or interact with me in life, they need to (hopefully!) have an experience of Jesus.  The word Christian literally translates to "little christ."  We are called to be those "little christ's" to the world.  Every minute of every day of our lives (there's no day off in the life of a disciple).  I may be the only Bible people ever read in their lives, and I want to be a good, vibrant witness of Christ to all I meet.

So the next time you receive one of those church mailer invites, don't toss it out right away...use it as a reminder to strengthen your own calling to be a radical and intentional follower of Jesus. 
I know that's what it did for me... :)

22 October 2012

The best parts of my job...

... as a Youth Minister. 

This weekend, I took 42 teens on a Confirmation retreat.  They are preparing to receive this awesome sacrament in a few weeks.  The teens had a jam packed weekend full of great speakers, 2 great bon fires complete with the fixings for smores, and plenty of free time to explore the woods or have a game of tackle football.

This weekend I was reminded why I love what I get to do and how important it is.  Not every young person is probably going to walk away on fire with love for Jesus and their Catholic faith, and I get that, but my job is to help plants the seeds of "desire" to know and have a personal relationship with Jesus.  And I was blessed to get some glimpses of the seeds of faith being planted in the hearts of the young church I get to work with.  So this weekend caused me to reflect on some of the best parts of my job.

So what are the best part of being a Youth Minister???
1.  Praying with young people....so powerful. so important.  On Saturday night, we had an evening prayer experience with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (as Catholics we believe that the bread is truly the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ...it is really the most AWESOME thing of being Catholic...don't believe me, read John 6 in the Bible:) and teens also had the opportunity to go to Confession and be prayed with for anything they wanted.  I prayed over young people who want prayer for their friends considering suicide, lost family members, and each of them to have a living, passionate relationship with Jesus.  We hugged and cried, listened and learned.  Prayer is the spiritual dynamite to a living relationship with God, and the more I work with young people I am reminded how important is to take time and pray with and for them.

2.  Seeing young people become strong Christian leaders and witnesses...I was ooberly blessed to have one of our current youth leaders and one of our graduated youth leaders come and help on our retreat this weekend.  They are both strong, on fire, and vibrant witnesses of what it means to be a Catholic Christian.  I watched them lead prayer among the whole group.  I watched one of them pray over one of the teens on retreat.  I watched them play hard and pray even harder with the teens.  One of the young ladies on the retreat came up to me on Sunday and shared how she was really impressed with one of those 2 youth leaders.  That youth leader was comfortable enough to talk about Jesus/their faith and love God but still be a fun kind of person to be around...she said watching that youth leader reminded her that it is possible to love Jesus and have fun.  I am SO proud when I see young people step up and out in the world as joyful, authentic Catholics; not because it is about something that I did, but its all about the power of God at work in their life, transforming them more and more to be who he has called them to be.

3.  Sharing my own personal walk with Jesus...I think it is so important for teens to hear the faith journey's of other trusted adults; it helps them make sense of their own relationship with God and gives them support and encouragement.  After we got home from the retreat on Sunday, I was crazy enough to still have a Youth group meeting (even though I realistically had a total of 6 hours of sleep this entire past weekend:).  We watched an AMAZING movie, "To Save a Life...check out the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o56pazEh-Q.  It is a powerful movie that addresses many of the modern issues facing young people today...after the movie we had some great discussion and it also gave me an opportunity to share some of my faith journey with the teens.  I just LOVE sharing my LOVE of Jesus and all things Catholic (I embrace my Catholic geekness ;).   

4.  Just having good ol' fashioned fun together...One of the many things I love about young people is their crazy energy and excitement for life and having fun.  Just as I am always on the look-out for an opportunity to share Christ with them, I also look for ways to just have fun and celebrate life with them.  Whether its a crazy icebreaker involving Cheeto's and shaving cream or enjoying trip to the cider mill/corn maze/hay ride place (which we will be doing this Saturday:), its just as important to have a well balanced dose of fun to go with all the Jesus-y stuff:).

Now of course as with any job, there are the days I question if I even am making a difference or if what I'm doing even matters in the scheme of things.  There are times when the hours are crazy long and the piles on my desk never seems to grow any smaller...
...but after weekends like this I'm reminded once again of the great privilege and blessing it is to work with the young church. :)

06 February 2012

Lessons I Think Marriage will Teach Me...

Recently, I shared with Jim, "Hey you know what, I think marriage is going to teach me A LOT of stuff."  Know that may sound like a dumb observation, for of course it will teach me many things.  But I guess that is something I have been thinking and praying about recently; the lessons I think marriage will teach me. 
So here are my thoughts on what I think marriage will teach me:

Marriage will teach me to be less selfish:  For over 26 years, it has just been me.  Me taking care of me.  Not that I am the world's most ego-centric person, but I admit I am comfortable being selfish; having to only take care of my needs and how things outside in the world affect me and my life.  As Jim and I have been together, I have learned more that real love is about putting the significant other in my life first....to think about his needs first....to think about how something is affecting his life before my own...to sacrifice my own wants or needs to take better care of him.  I want to and pray a lot for the grace to be a good wife, and I think it takes time and probably A LOT of practice to grow in selflessness.

Marriage will teach me not to keep score:  When I was growing up, I was really good at keeping score. like really good.  Of how many more times I had to unload the dishwasher than my sister or how many more times I had to run a last minute errand for my Mom, etc...you get the idea.  But you know what, those childish ways won't work in a team work effort like marriage.  I am sure there will be plenty of times I will have to rely on Jim to do extra things around the house when I have a busy weekend full of Youth Ministry activities or long evening meetings.  And there will be plenty of times Jim will need me to help him out by doing the grocery shopping or house chores so he can study for finals or meet with his clients.  Keeping score in a marriage, I think will only frustrate and create tension between husband and wife.  Keeping "track" of who does more stuff around the house from one week to the next is not healthy of right...because marriage, Christian marriage is ALL about self-sacrifice.  Hopefully by realizing and thinking about some of these things now, will help us out when push comes to shove.

Marriage will teach me to love unconditionally:  I am perfectly aware that marriage is not all butterflies and roses; that it's not always two people skipping on a sandy beach holding hands.  Living with Jim in the sacrament of marriage will help and teach me to love NO MATTER WHAT.  To love him even when he drives me bonkers with annoying habits...to love him when we disagree and argue about stuff....to love him when he makes mistakes...to love him at times he needs it most.  In short, marriage will teach me to be a better Christian lover to my husband.  And at the end of life, that's what I want to know I did a good job in...my marriage.

All in all, I pray Jim and I can always work together to create a happy, holy, and healthy marriage.  As June 22, 2012 draws closer, I think about all I have to learn...and the journey we will share in learning it together with each other :)

25 January 2012

Reflections of Ministry-filled Weekend

This weekend was one of those crazy, busy weekends with what I like to call a "Church work weekend," but the best part was all the little Holy Spirit moments I saw along the way.

Along with being a Youth Minister, I have begun to do a fair amount of chastity talks on the side for the past few years.  This weekend I had another speaking engagement at an inner-city parish to 80 teens!  I was excited to share this opporunity with my honey, Jim as he spoke to the young men, and I to the young ladies.  I think it went pretty well. They listened to what I had to say, asked really heart-felt questions, and it helped that I was able to make them laugh too!  Speaking about chastity and how it is actual what real love is all about is something so important to me, and I really believe in it too.  By the end of the afternoon, Jim and I were already agreeing to do another talk together this spring sometime before our wedding.  It is just so funny how God works in our lives sometimes.  5 or 6 years ago, I would have absolutely hated to do public speaking, and now I am doing it like second nature; just makes me me smile on how God works everything out along the way.

This weekend I also have another great opportunity to do one of my most favorite hting with young people: take them to Washingto, DC for the annual March for Life.  I have been going every year since I was in college, and I just love it so much.  Usually when I have taken teens I take anywhere from 10-15 on this awesome pilgrimage; this year we only had 6, but it again proved to be a powerful and hope-filled experience for them.  The weekend was full of long bus rides, sleep-less nights, but most important great joy and hope at the power of the pro-life movement.  We went to a Youth Rally and Mass on Monday morning where over 20,000 young people gathered for prayer, praise, and lots excitement! It was life a rock concert atmosphere where we all gathered for the same reason, to re-commit ourselves to work for the protection of all human life. 
And then comes the actual March itself.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans from all across the country walk and pray together specifically for an end to abortion.  We listened to Orthodox priests and monks chant in Latin.  We sang praise and worship songs with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.  We chanted loudly at the top of our voices.  We heard powerful testimonies of women who regret their abortion and men who regret lost fatherhood.  The March for Life is a time of great hope as we pray and continue to work for the protection of all human life from womb to tomb.
A particular powerful moment for me came as we were leaving from the Supreme Court bulding.  There was a long line on men and women lining the streets from the Silent No More campaign holding signs that read, "I regret my abortion" or "I regret lost Fatherhood."  I began talking and thanking these men and women for their witness here.  SUCH a Holy Spirit moment.

So yes, this weekend was very busy.  And yes I came home totally exhausted.  But more importantly, I came home enriched both emotionally and spiritually from both of these wonderful experiences.
God is so good!

02 January 2012

Reflections on 2011, Hopes for 2012...

2011 was a year full of all kinds of stuff.  By far, the most exciting and happiest time was getting engaged to Jim in August when I got home from World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain.  SO. FREAKING. HAPPY.  Other exciting things included a trip to Rome and then Madrid for WYD 2011 in Madrid with the Pope and 2 million other young Catholics.  Such a joyful celebration of the beauty and fullness of the Catholic faith.
The year also included some sadness and disappointments.  My Gradnpa died on June 2, 2011.  He was a man of great faith, love for family, and had a strong work ethic.  He lives on through our happy memories together, and I look forward to telling my children someday about the humble greatness of their great grandpa.  A disappointment came in not getting what I considered to be the perfect job...but God always has other plans, when things don't go as we want.

I have several hopes for this new year of 2012.  First of all, that God would continue to bless Jim and I both emotionally and spiritually as we prepare to become husband and wife on June 22, 2012.  One of my resolutions is that we would grow closer in prayer together as a couple...the couple that prays together, stays together :)  By reading good spiritual books together, praying the Rosary, and going to Eucharistic Adoration at least twice a week, this will only strengthen the foundation for a holy Christian marriage.  One of our deepest connections is our faith we share, and through these specific ways, I hope and pray God will draw us closer together as a couple.

Jim and I have also decided to start our first "official" family tradition.  Each new year, we will pick a new family saint for the new year to learn about, study, use as a model in holiness, and strive to live out their virtues and charisms.  Being that we are getting married, we are looking at married couples or saints who were married to be our "first official Hubbard family patron saint" for this upcoming year, and are currently searching for our first family patron saint.  Holy Spirit, led us to the right holy men/women to draw us closer to Jesus!

I also have two personal hopes for myself.  Currently one of the books I am reading is "Weightless: Making Peace with your Body" by Kate Wicker.  It is a great book written from a Catholic perspective in how to truly love yourself and your body, no matter your shape or size.  Being that I can be very hard on my body, I am going to really strive to use healthy, positive self-talk whenever I am in front of the bathroom mirror.  God never makes junk, and I think I need to get better of reminding myself that I am beautiful and rare in the eyes of my King; that I need to love the amazing creation he made in ME!  The more I do things like that, I can stop believing lies I told myself about my body.
I am also going to create my daily "spiritual Alamo."  That is the spiritual pratices I will commit myself to grow in my personal relationship with Christ.  This is something I have been praying about for awhile, and I think it is time to commit to certain things each day that will strenghten my relationship with God.

As you start 2012, may you be filled with a renewed sense of hope and joy!
BRING. IT. ON. 2012 :-)

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