The Story of Life

I will never forget seeing those two little blue lines for the first time.  Those blue lines gave me hope. They gave me comfort. They gave me a sense of peace.  I was pregnant.

We had been trying to get pregnant for ten months and finally, we were part of the “club”.  We were going to have a baby! We told our parents at 8 weeks and then a few close friends in the two weeks that followed.  It was an amazing feeling knowing that in a few short months we would be holding our sweet little boy or girl.

And then tragedy.  At my 10 week ultrasound I heard the words, “there is no heartbeat” followed by the words “are you sure on the timing?”.  I was sure. We were 100% sure. There was lots of discussion about what would happen next. I could return home and wait to miscarry or I could have a procedure done right then and there that would extract the baby from my womb.  While still in a state of shock, we decided to have the procedure done there in the doctor’s office. There would be no more pain, no blood and no waiting. There would also be a gaping hole in my heart. “Bad luck” is what I remember the doctor saying.

To say that the procedure was horrifying would be a drastic understatement.  As I lay there on the table with my feet in stirrups, wide awake, my doctor inserted a needle into my vagina to numb the cervix.  I was then injected with something to make my cervix expand large enough to insert a vacuum tube to suction out the fetal tissue. The numbing agent did little for the pain.  The sound of the vacuum pulling out the remaining hope that was still clinging to my uterus was unbearable. As I lay there, naked and without dignity, I could not believe what was happening.  All of those future plans that we had made were gone. Now, I must return home and tell the few family and friends that there would be no baby. This scenario would happen two more times, although I opted to miscarry on my own once and then have the procedure done in a hospital while I was anesthetized the second time.  Each time taking a little of my soul with it.

We were encouraged to seek fertility help after the third miscarriage.  Little did we know that before we would even see the fertility specialist, I would become pregnant for a fourth time.  With the help of medications, we finally saw a heartbeat at 6 weeks, 9 weeks, and 12 weeks! We could safely tell family and friends of the news we had been hoping for for the past three years.  Our future had been determined. We were going to have a baby.

Discussions in our household centered around “will we find out the gender?”, “will I breast feed?”, “should we have a baby shower?”, and “what will the name be?”.  So much hope and love for this little human growing within me. My life was changing. I was gaining weight, eating better (except for the taco bell cravings that I had), and I was starting to feel teeny tiny flutters within my belly.  Tiny kicks and punches that would eventually turn into huge rolls and feet protruding from my stomach. I remember waiting to feel a kick…waiting and hoping that everything was going to be OK this time.

I couldn’t wait to tell everyone the good news.  Strangers would come up to me at the store and want to touch the belly.  These same people would wish me luck and tell me how exciting it is that it was my first.  Co-workers would hear me giggle as I would feel every little hiccup from this beautiful child continuing to grow every day a little bit bigger, getting ready to meet the world.  Oh, how I loved this child even before I ever set eyes on her.

When I went for my 20 week ultrasound, we decided not to find out the gender.  We wanted it to be a surprise. I remember looking on the ultrasound screen and seeing this little being with 10 fingers and 10 toes.  The baby had a beautiful head, tiny little nose, sweet little ears, and best of all, the baby had her hands folded as if she were praying.  What a beautiful human being. At 20 weeks, it was around the time of March Madness, so we decided to create a tournament of names. Each night we would narrow our list of 32 boy names and 32 girl names until we finally had one of each gender decided on.  If the baby was a girl, we would name her Amelia. If the baby was a boy, we would name him Ryan.

A few weeks later, the plans continued.  We registered for our baby shower, painted the nursery, borrowed furniture from a friend, and began Lamaze classes offered at the hospital where we would deliver.  So many plans for our future child. Our love continued to grow for her every day.

As we got closer and closer to the due date, we met with the pediatrician who would visit her in the hospital, we washed clothes, setup the nursery and then waited.  We waited for that first labor pain. On August 5th, 2005, I felt the first sign of labor at around 1:30 am. We called the doctor in the morning as my contractions were getting closer together.  The doctor told us to meet him at the hospital after lunch. Finally, we would meet the sweet baby that we had been waiting so long for.

We arrived at the hospital at 12:30 pm and delivered our beautiful baby girl at 9:17 pm that night.  She was perfect; a sweet, tiny, beautiful angel sent from God to restore our hope and give us a reason to become better people.  We now had a child who depended on us. This child has given us a glimpse of our heavenly Father’s love. She brings us such joy every day.  She is like no other child I have ever encountered. I thank God for giving us her at the exact right time, God’s time, not ours.

God knows the perfect time for everything.  We may not know why or how, but His timing is perfect.  God knows exactly what we need when we need it. He knew that I needed to experience pain and loss to become the mother that I am today.  It is because of this pain, loss and redemption that I am writing this today.

I urge all women, young and old, to embrace God’s perfect timing and turn away from abortion.  I saw my daughter’s heartbeat at 6 weeks old. I felt her kick at 13 weeks. She had hiccups at 16 weeks.  She prayed in my womb at 20 weeks. She punched and kicked and rolled over in my womb at 24 weeks. She was always a baby, not a fetus, to all of those who already loved her way before she was born.  Choose life. Choose hope. Put your faith in our Lord that He will provide the way in His perfect timing. Every child is a precious gift from God at all stages of life. Life begins at conception. Hope begins at conception.  Love begins at conception. May God grant all women the courage to accept His Love, His Hope and the life He lays out before them.


The Importance of Worshiping as a Family

As a child, I went to church every week.  There was no question. We went to Sunday School, which was not offered at the same time as the Sunday liturgy, and then we stayed for the church service.  We were there for at least 2 1/2 hours every Sunday. My parents attended bible study as my brother and I attended Sunday School and then we went to church and sat in the front left pew (I am a creature of habit, you will still find me there every Sunday) as a family.  We dressed in our Sunday best, many times had brunch after church, and started our day focused on Jesus.

I will readily admit there were days that my mom had to drag us to church as we got older.  Sleeping in until noon was a greater priority for my brother and I as we entered High School, but she encouraged us to go nonetheless.  Yes, there were out of town soccer games that would interrupt our going to the later service, but those days, my mom would just wake us up early, go to the early service, and then bring our clothes to change into so we could make it on time.  I am absolutely, 100% sure it was stressful for my mom. We were whining, tired, hungry, bored, lazy kids who didn’t want to be there, but we went. And those Sunday’s formed me into the person I am today. I believe all of that time spent in church eventually led me to search for the Truth which changed my path and brought me to the Catholic church.

Our current church has been going through some changes in children’s programming to enable families to worship together during Mass (elimination of preschool PSR during the Mass).  This past week, as I have had many of my friends calling me, asking me questions, getting angry, and expressing their views of the changes, I have been more acutely aware of the importance of worshiping as a family.  

During Holy Week, my family started the week visiting St.Anthony’s Chapel.  To see my kids interested in the 5,000 relics while at the same time being respectful, reverent, bowing every time they crossed the altar, and speaking in a whisper as they lit candles and sent up prayers for the faithful departed, I was reminded of the holiness that is growing in their hearts through their love of Jesus and the Eucharist (by the way, all of their actions were not prompted, they have simply learned how to act because we are at Mass and they know Jesus is present).

All three of my kids worshiped on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday and they were so good.  Yes, there may have been some arguing in the pew with their sibling, dropping of hymnals, and needing to go to the bathroom during the consecration, but they were there and they heard God’s word and felt his presence even if it didn’t seem like it.

I will never forget Easter Sunday when we were singing the “Alleluia” right before the Gospel reading and I hear this little voice, my five year old’s voice, singing the words as she was coloring.  It was like an angels voice, soft and sweet. That moment made me realize just how much she is learning by being in Mass. She is learning prayers, stories from the bible, and songs that she can recall in times of need, just as I did by learning the Lutheran liturgy in my upbringing, which I never would have done had my parents not taken me every week.  My daughter can’t read, but she is taking part in the most Holy sacrifice of the Mass, and there isn’t a week that goes by when she doesn’t ask “Mom, when can I have the Christ?”.

I look forward to the day she can receive our Lord and Savior; body, blood, soul and divinity.  But before that day comes, I find peace in knowing that no matter how stressful it is for a parent to get their kids to church on time and then expect them to behave, they are learning and growing in a deeper relationship with our Lord and seeds are being planted that will give them hope in the dark days that are yet to come.  

Fogive us our Trespasses

How many times in your life have you been wronged by someone? Was the wrong caused by someone you know or by a stranger who said or did something? Can you even count how many times someone’s hurtful words or actions made you angry, sad, or discouraged? I know I can’t.  

I have been wronged, greatly wronged by family members, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and strangers. For years I thought, “How could that person say that to me?” or “I tried my best, but I guess it wasn’t good enough.” or “Why would a stranger say something that hurtful to someone they don’t even know?”. My first thought was always about ME. They don’t know ME. How dare they say or do that to ME. What gives them the right to treat ME that way.

The one thing I never thought of was them.

What happened to that person over the course of their life that caused them to feel this way? What did someone say or do, or better yet, neglect to say or do to that person that would allow them to treat someone else with disrespect? When you really look into someone’s heart, you become overwhelmed with mercy for them. You realize their heart needs healed.

Over the last few months, I realized I am that stranger, I am that family member, I am that friend, co-worker or acquaintance. I am that person who has inadvertently hurt so many people over the course of my life. I have said and done things that were wrong and walked away having no idea the lasting impact a few words could have. After turning my finger around and pointing it at my heart, I recognize my heart has holes, God sized holes, that need healing, and I can only find healing in Him.

Forgiveness is hard. But forgiveness opens your heart to freedom from the lies, the hatred, and the wasted energy. I ask for your forgiveness today. If there is anything I have ever said or done that has hurt you, please forgive me. Have mercy on me a sinner.

As our Lord Jesus Christ said as he hung on the cross, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do”. Who can you forgive today? Who can you ask for forgiveness today?

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” – Matthew 6:12

You are Never Alone in your Suffering

“In everything give thanks.”  This is a hard quote to follow.  So many times in our lives, we don’t feel like giving thanks.  We are hurting in one way or another and we want it to stop.  Some of us, during the course of our suffering will turn away from God.  We will accuse Him of making us suffer or allowing us to suffer.  How could a good God allow ME to go through all of this hurt?  It is in these moments, that we are called to turn our eyes toward the cross and give thanks.

Remember his words “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you.  Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will” Mark 14:36.  God calls us to unite our suffering with his.  Look at the cross and know that he will lead you with his gentle hand through what seems like impossible circumstances.  

As we gaze at the crucifix and see God hanging on the cross, hands and feet pierced by nails, ribs showing through bloodied skin, knees scraped, His side pierced by a lance, His head bleeding from a crown of thorns, and His face so sorrowful, it is a reminder of the supreme sacrifice and suffering Jesus paid for us.

Jesus, the God-man, fully divine and fully human, came to earth to live among us and experience what we as humans experience.  In his short life on earth, He experienced every kind of pain and suffering known to man.

Early in His ministry, the spirit lead Jesus to the desert to be tempted by the devil.  He spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting.  It was at the moment of His breaking point that the devil came to Him.  Knowing how hungry Jesus must be, the devil tempted Him with food.  Imagine the hunger; pains, cramping and rumbling.  I imagine Jesus thinking (as we humans would) “Please just turn one of those rocks into bread for me to eat.  I am so hungry and weak.  I can’t go on anymore.”  Instead His response is “One cannot live on bread alone.”  Next, the devil tempts him with calling down God’s power to save Him, the power to end His suffering.  But again, Jesus does not give in to the devil.  Instead, he responds quoting the ancient scriptures “It is written, you shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”  Lastly, the devil tempts Him with riches and kingdoms.  Jesus could have everything if he would only bow down to the devil.  But Jesus responds by saying “It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”In all three of these temptations, God is laying out a plan for us to respond to suffering.  

We can not live by worldly desires alone.  We must turn to God as He will always provide a way for us.  We should not always expect the Lord to make everything “good” in our lives.  We should not put Him to the test; always wanting happiness and never to suffer.  Many times we ask God “Why me?, Why have you left me here alone?, I thought you were all powerful, why can’t you fix this?”  Our focus should always remain on the goodness of the Lord and the trust that He will guide us even during times of great suffering.  We need to trust that God would never allow suffering unless a greater good could come from it.  Could God stop our suffering?  Yes, but God allows it in order for us to draw closer to Him, to press into Him and realize we can’t “do” this life without Him.

Let’s look at the life of Jesus during his active ministry.  Jesus felt every emotion we have felt; anger, betrayal, hurt, chastisement, sadness, joy, love, empathy, and suffering.  He lost his best friend Lazarus.  He wept upon seeing the suffering Lazarus’ friends and family were feeling after Lazarus’ death.  Yes, Jesus wept.  Jesus wept because He understands your grief at the loss of a loved one.  He knows the gut wrenching pain you are experiencing at the thought of never seeing that person again and He wants to help you through it.

Now, fast forward to the Last Supper.  This is where His suffering greatly intensifies.  Not only is he betrayed by one of the twelve who hands him over to his accusers, but he is also betrayed by his most loyal follower, the one who will be called “The Rock”.  Facing certain death, beating, and scourging, Jesus needed a friend to be there to comfort him, but instead his friend ran away and denied even knowing him.  

Imagine how Jesus must have felt.  Now, imagine when you feel you are alone in your suffering that God is there with you.  Jesus is holding your hand, wiping your tears, and propping you up to take the next step.  He knows exactly how you feel; the sadness, the abandonment, and the loss.  He is there to rescue you.  You only need to trust in Him.

Have you ever faced rejection?  Have you ever felt that you can’t do anything right?  Have you ever felt that the world was against you, that no matter what you did, you could never rise above your current circumstances?  Jesus felt that too!  Imagine being with him before the Sanhedrin.  The lies and accusations being flung at him.  Spit landing on his face.  Someone striking his cheek.  Another person calling him profane names and shoving a stick in his side.  Jesus falling to the ground and being kicked by an angry stranger.  Imagine rolling on the ground, writhing in pain, only to catch a glimpse of your mother weeping and unable to help you.  What must a man feel like experiencing such horrible degrading circumstances?  If you can relate, Jesus can too.  Jesus knows your pain.  He knows your frustration.  He knows the depth of your sorrow.  He knows your soul and he loves you with a love that can calm every pain and quiet every voice.

Have you ever felt physical pain; excruciating pain from some kind of injury or chronic pain from some kind of physical ailment?  Is the pain sometimes so bad you just want to give in, you just want to give up?  Jesus felt this too.  In the garden as he was praying, the pain of knowing what he was about to go through was so great that he began to sweat blood.  Can you imagine knowing that your skin was about to be ripped from your body during the scourging, that your skull would be impaled with thorns that would be beaten into your head, that you would have to carry a 300 pound cross to your death, that your hands and feed would be pierced by a thick rusty nail, that your side would be ripped open by a lance, that your shoulders would become dislocated and your skin would burn from the hot sun as you hung on a cross naked and gasping for air as your lungs began to fill with fluid?  That is pain. That is agony.  Jesus has been where you are.  He knows physical pain of every kind.

Jesus provided salvation for the world through his suffering.  During every step of his passion, he saw YOUR face and he loved you so much that he trusted in God’s will.  He was willing to suffer that much for YOU and for me!  And he would do it all again.  He would do it every day of His life, over and over again for you.  He loves you that much!

Allow Him to come down and meet you where you are.  Let him reach down to the lowliness you are feeling and pull you up to meet him.  He is the only one who can save you.  He would never reject you.  He loves you unconditionally.  Feel his love enter your heart and allow that love to penetrate your soul.  Trust in Him.  Trust in his infinite love for you.  Trust that His love is enough to carry you through any type of suffering.  Jesus, I trust in you!  Jesus, I trust in you!  Jesus, I trust in you!

“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.  In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” – John 16:33  

My Fish Bowl

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a Facebook Live event at the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) conference by Father Mike Schmitz.  Since then, I have listened to the recording at least five times and have forwarded it on to many women in my life.  The talk was THAT GOOD.  (In case you want to watch it, here’s the link;

I have struggled throughout my life to find authentic virtuous friendships.  I have been in and out of groups of women who left me feeling alone and unfulfilled.  It is rare in this life that we find friends who do not judge, who love you even in spite of your faults, who don’t gossip about you when you walk out the door, and will be there no matter what.  Over the past five years, my friendships have completely changed.  Because of my new found deep faith in Jesus Christ, I lost many friends and the road become very lonely.  By focusing on Him, challenging myself to extend invitations, and striving for virtue in my own life, God brought women of virtue into my life in abundance.

Finding true authentic friendship requires recognizing God in the other person.  It also requires stepping out of your comfort zone and inviting someone into the bowl.  It’s hard to invite someone into friendship, but when you recognize God, your soul opens and begins to become vulnerable.  That vulnerability is what leads to a deeper friendship and the beginning of a walk together through life.

I want to share the stories of my friendships with the women in my fish bowl. I will race with these women to the end because they have loved me, faults and all, and continue to strengthen my belief in God with every encounter.  My friendships with these women took time to build.  It wasn’t an instant friendship, but the effort put forth by each of us has touched my life in immeasurable ways.  I have given these amazing women their own “name” based on what they mean to my life.

My Racing Partner – To say that my  friend Sarah and I are soul sisters is an understatement.  “She completes me” (yes, I had to throw something corny in).  God brought her into my life exactly when I needed it.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my dear friend.  She is a rock.  She gives me hope in this world and in working toward eternity.  I recently told her that when I first met her I never would have imagined how close we would become.  She concurred.  She shares all of my struggles and successes.  We are both deeply in love with our faith and the Catholic church.  I admire her and the choices she has made through the most dire of circumstances.  I thank God for bringing her into my life.  She has taught me more than she will ever know.

My Life Changer – When I first met my friend Jenny, she had just experienced the tragic loss of the love of her life and father of her three beautiful daughters.  I didn’t know Jenny before the accident.  I arranged meals for her family following the tragedy and one night when I delivered my meal, we began to talk.  The friendship that bloomed from such horrible circumstances has taught me so much about life, suffering, picking-up-the-pieces, strength, courage, and finding love again.  At the end of my days, I will look back on this friendship as one of the most important relationships of my life.

My Fellow Convert – When I met Rebecca, she had just moved to my neighborhood.  Jesus brought us together by fate.  She has built me up when I am feeling low, she has reminded me just how much Jesus can change a soul, and she gives me hope that no matter the circumstances, your faith in Jesus is all you need.

My “Good for the soul” friend – Last Saturday I spent the morning over coffee with Bridget.  We hadn’t seen each other in several months, but we picked up right where we left off.  Laughter is the key to our friendship.  We respect each other, we laugh at each other’s faults, and we love one another for what each of us brings to the friendship.  Bridget has been through some very difficult times, but through it all, her faith remains strong.  She has faith that it will all work out and I love that in her.  Seeing her does my soul good because I never smile as much as I do when I’m with her.

My Church Buddy – Jen is my sister in Christ.  Our “happy place” is the church.  I have known Jen for years, but it wasn’t until my conversion that she and I grew to be great friends.  We both love kids and dream of the day that every child has an Encounter with our Lord.  She is my sounding board, my confidante, and the one person that challenges me to give more of myself.

My Best Friend – And of course, my mom.  She brought me into this world.  She has loved me like no other and she has been an incredible witness to faith in God.  She worked tirelessly when we were children to ensure we made it to church every week.  She planted the seeds in our hearts that brought us back to Jesus even after straying for many years.  Without my mom, I would be nothing.  She is my best friend.  Nothing more needs to be said except, I love you mom.

The women in my “fish bowl” are diverse, few of them are friends with each other, and most of them jumped into the bowl through the most unlikely of circumstances.   They are my witnesses in this life.  We walk together through good times and the most unbelievable struggles.  I may not see one of them for a month or two, but when we are together, our souls speak.

My “bowl” runneth over with love for these women who I never would have connected with had it not been for Jesus.  Changing my focus from the things of this world to focusing on Him and the life He wants for me has healed every hole in my heart and has filled my life with such joy.  Joy that I share with these women every day.

If you are struggling with finding authentic virtuous friendships, you are not alone.  I too was there.  Look for God.  Let Him lead you on your journey, and when you find someone, jump into the bowl together and glorify God with your every encounter.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 – “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.”

A Glimpse of Heaven

Yesterday, while I was reviewing some religious content for a project I have been working on at church, I stumbled across a video called “VITA” by Father John Burns (  After watching the video, I felt this overwhelming sense of joy.  Joy in knowing that I am working towards an inconceivable goal; heaven.

I wrote about “my glimpse of heaven” a little over a year ago when on retreat at Gethsemani Abbey.  When I was on retreat, I experienced God in a way I had never before and I may never again until I see Him again in eternity.  I hope I can convey the feelings that I had in words.

The retreats at Gethsemani are silent.  During my retreat, I spent five days with approximately thirty people, complete strangers, in silence.  The silence allowed me to hear God’s voice.  God spoke to me in many ways that week showing me the beauty of His creation and what life with Him can be.  It was through my experience at Gethsemani that I believe God gave me a glimpse of heaven.

While on retreat, every day, seven times a day, you meet in the sanctuary for prayer with others on retreat.  You hear the wonderful church bells calling you to prayer.  No matter where you are; in your room, in the dining hall, taking a hike, or sitting under a tree, you are called to worship.  You arrive in silence.  You see the monks arrive, one by one, to take their seats and prepare themselves to praise God with beautiful chants and prayer.  They sing at a slow pace that is almost hypnotic.  This pace allows the words to penetrate your soul.  The prayers are simple and beautiful.

Morning prayer is followed by Mass.  Mass at Gethsemani is unhurried.  You enter the sanctuary early to sit in silence and prepare to enter into the most intimate relationship of your life.  When Mass begins, the tune of the hymn is simple but sweet to the ear.  It is sung at a slow pace for you to really enjoy and listen to the words while lifting them to His ear in praise.  Even the responses are said slowly.

The first mass I attended felt strange.  I was done saying the response while the monks were still on the first few words.  As I started to slow my responses and really listen to the words and their meaning, I felt a deep sense of love for the liturgy come over me.  When it came time for the Gloria and the Lord’s Prayer, they were sung slowly and purposefully.  This was like angelic voices being lifted to heaven.  The slow, intentional voices of men who have dedicated their entire lives to living as Christ lived was like the sweetest choir of angels surrounding our Lord in heaven.  For the first time in my life, I understood Mass and how every Sunday when we are celebrating Mass, Jesus and all of the Saints are in heaven doing the same thing. We are in union with our most high God and all of the angels and saints.

On the last day of the retreat, I was overwhelmed with love.  Love for God, love for the monks, and love for the others on retreat.  It is a kind of love this is difficult to explain.  It is the purest kind of love I have ever experienced.  I didn’t know any of their names, races, how much money they had, sexual preference, political persuasion, etc.  All I knew was that seven times a day we were united in one goal; loving Christ with the utmost of our being.  I miss the monks and the others on retreat.  Many times, if I am feeling low, I sit and remember their faces.  I recall each of them and the love I have for them.  I remember the people I sat next to in prayer and at Mass: each one uniquely wonderful, created in the image and likeness of God.  I left changed.  I left longing for heaven, longing to see God’s face.  I am home sick for sure.  Home sick for the day I too will meet our heavenly Father face to face.  I believe the experience I had at Gethsemani is a glimpse of what heaven is like; pure, unchanging, unconditional love found in perfect communion with God and His beloved.  A love that is hard for humans to comprehend because it is such goodness and mercy beyond our understanding.

I struggle to express what my encounter was like because in this life, we will never achieve the kind of love waiting for us on the other side.  Heaven is like a mother nursing her child where two become one with life giving food.  It’s like the wedding night when a husband and wife join their bodies together in oneness and love.  It’s like pure joy that radiates from a child’s face when they discover something new and wonderful.  It’s like the sweet smell of a baby’s head when they first get out of the bath.  Heaven is pure, perfect, unblemished, sweet, joy filled love.  That is what we are working towards.  Heaven makes every moment of every day worth it when we are growing closer to being with Him in eternity.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” – Colossians 3:1-2

The Ultimate Resolution

With the beginning of the New Year, I wanted to choose a resolution that would change me, really change me.

I’ve made resolutions in the past that focused on changing my body by eating better or working out more. I’ve made resolutions to improve my relationship with my family by being more patient or being truly present in every moment I’m with them. I’ve set goals in my working life to promote or earn a specific incentive. I’ve committed myself to reaching out to friends, the poor, and the lonely. I’ve sworn off chocolate, swearing, social media, etc.

Through all of the years of resolutions, I relied on myself for change. It was up to me to get to the gym or not eat that second piece of cake. I relied on myself to pickup the phone to call a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a long time. I relied on myself to be less stressed and more patient with others. But relying on myself has lead to disappointment time and time again. Sure, I exercise for a period of time and eventually get out of the routine for one reason or another or I contact friends only to get really busy and fail at the follow through for getting together with them. Year after year, I fall flat with my resolutions. And you know what? I’m tired of it.

This year, while trying to decide how I could better myself, God spoke loud and clear. You see, this mama had forgotten how to say “no”. My greatest passion is Jesus Christ and my happy place is the church. Whenever someone would need help with a project, I would absolutely volunteer knowing that I would get to spend more time with Jesus and bringing others to Him. However, I allowed myself to get wrapped up in too many different things and I found myself getting more and more frustrated over silly things at home and at church. The worst part was that although I was “working” for Jesus, I wasn’t spending time with Him. Over the past year, I have spent hundreds of hours creating curriculum, planning youth activities, running bible studies, teaching PSR, and just plain giving myself to everyone but Him.

Most mornings, I wake up with the intention of spending time in prayer, reading the bible and going to adoration, however, by 7:30am my morning has hit a snag here or there and I am unable to devote any time to just being with my friend Jesus. By 9:30, I’m at the church setting up the social hall, having meetings, sorting donations, or just BS’ing with the people I see in the hallways. Before I know it, it’s lunch time. I eat lunch, relax for a few minutes, change the laundry, clean up around the house, and then head out the door to pick up my daughter from preschool. The afternoon and evening fly by with homework, soccer, riding, dinner, family time and the bedtime routine. After everyone is in bed, I’m excited that I finally have the chance to meet Jesus in prayer, in the pages of the bible, or in a book I am reading, but before I even have a chance to read the first page, my eyes droop and I am asleep. My intentions have been good, but the follow through needs work.

This year, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, my spiritual life hit a snag. I have been in the Easter season of my faith for the past four and a half years, and suddenly, that Easter season ended. It was shocking to say the least. All of a sudden, my fire was completely extinguished. As I sit and write this, tears come to my eyes. The sense of euphoria is gone.

For years I have heard people compare marriage to Christ’s relationship with the Church and now I have been completely awakened to this truth. Successful marriages take time, effort, forgiveness, trust and love. When the honeymoon stage is over, the real work begins. That is where I am in my relationship with Christ and his Church.

This year, during the Advent season, God’s words came loud and clear. Stop all that you are doing and focus solely on me. When you focus on Me, you will find love, trust, hope, peace, an end to your loneliness, and a truth for your life that is immeasurable. This is where my resolution was born.

So, here it goes. I resolve to spend time throughout each day focused solely on Christ through prayer, reading sacred scripture, and spending time in front of the blessed Sacrament. I resolve to be fully present with my children and husband to be able to respond to their needs before the needs of others and to allow them to see God’s love reflected in me. By focusing on Christ, everything else will follow. No one knows what this year holds for me or my family, however, I do know with absolute certainty focusing on Christ will allow us to celebrate the highs and the lows.

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18