Friday, December 27, 2013

The Season of "Espera"

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One of my favorite Spanish words is "esperar", which means to wait for, to hope forThe older I get the more I appreciate this word.  It reminds me that no matter how difficult the "waiting" might be, there is hope because God's hand is at work.  There is (or at least should be) joy in waiting because God loves us and His plans are perfect. 

But even with this understanding of having great hope,  waiting isn't always easy. Sometimes it's annoying and painful.

I think about the time following my college graduation when I wasn't sure what I was doing.  For a moment it felt like God was being silent, and that was frustrating.  In reality I only had to wait a couple of weeks to hear that I was accepted into a mission work program in Mexico, but the waiting felt like an eternityI wanted an answer before graduation and I wanted things to happen on my own timetable.  But God asked me to wait, and it paid off. 

Then there was the stressful time of waiting when I finished up my second year of mission work, and had no idea where God wanted me to go next.  I completed the year in Texas, packed up my car with everything I owned, and moved back in with my parents to await further instruction.  Again, while it seemed like God was being silent f o r e v e r, there were really only about 5 weeks where God just wanted me to be still, to wait, and to trust that His timing was better than my own. 

3 years later I'm still working in my dream job in the most unexpected of places (trust me, Dodge City was not on my radar at all!) and appreciating the fact that God's plans are much better than anything I can come up with on my own. God asked me to wait, and it paid off. 

I have to admit that I am not always "full of hope" while waiting to see where God will lead me next.  Sometimes waiting is accompanied by tears, desperation, and complaining that God isn't moving fast enough.  Yet it seems those are the times when God reminds me of His faithfulness. The waiting has always had meaning and purpose when I remember that God is part of it. 

Waiting is hard.  It is challenging.  Sometimes it hurts.  Sometimes it is stressful.  But when God becomes the focus of our waiting, peace enters the unknown and the uncertainty. 

In a way, that's what Advent is about.  It's a season of waiting, of joyful expectation, of hopeThe world was waiting for a Savior, a King, a Mighty Ruler... and God surprised everyone:

Christ's coming was not only an answer to a season of waiting, but it was also an answer that was so much better than what people were expecting.  God became a tiny baby.  The King of Kings was born in a stable and placed in a manger.  God's perfect plan was so much better than what we could have come up with on our own.  

Advent reminds us of Christ's first coming, but it also reminds us that Christ will come again.  Advent takes us into a season of "espera"... a time of waiting and hoping.  We await the joyful celebration of Christ's birth, and we are also full of hope that Christ will return.  This waiting and hoping gives meaning to our lives, because it tells us that the story doesn't end here.  

Waiting and hoping in the Lord means that we trust Him... We don't know how long we have to wait, we don't know how exactly God's plan will unfold, but when we trust in His promise we know that things will turn out so much better than what we can plan for ourselves.  

Lord, teach us to wait and to hope.  
As we prepare to enter a new year, grant us a sense of peace with where you are leading us.  Help us to abandon all fear and give us the courage to step out of the boat and trust you completely.  Amen. 

be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid


Friday, December 20, 2013

7QT #4: Good & Great Things

My husband and I are celebrating our first Christmas together in Dodge City.  Christmas will be a little different this year, because it is the first time either of us has been away from our families on Christmas day.  Not gonna lie, I'm sad that we can't make a trip to TN or TX to be with our loved ones... but at the same time I'm looking forward to being with my husband and beginning our own traditions as a new family. 

Dad shares a birthday with Pope Francis.  It's like a double rainbow... I don't know what it means but I'm sure it's something good.    
Every now and then the culture gets it right
I'm not a parent yet, but this commercial melted my heart and made my day.  Way to go Coca Cola!  We think babies are pretty awesome too :)

Speaking of babies... 
I'm an NFP Teacher-in-Training with BOMA!  I found out a few weeks ago that I passed the test and can officially start working on becoming fully certified.  Honestly, I'm freaking out on the inside a little nervous... but I'm looking forward to teaching Theology of the Body AND Natural Family Planning.   I'm a married TOB fanatic who is going to be teaching NFP (Catholic triple threat?).  I'm suddenly feeling dangerously awesome.... :-p But seriously, please pray for me because this is new territory and another lesson in stepping out of the boat!  :) 
Whyyyyy M C A?
My husband and I joined the YMCA this month, and kicking off a 12-week fitness program this week.  Going to the gym is always a humbling experience... and my husband is one of those natural athletes that will have a six pack after a week of doing pushups and crunches.  Me on the other hand... I need some work.  But I'm really excited about doing this as a couple.  Maybe I should buy some matching sweatbands for Christmas?  #TEAMJOHNSTON

New year. New Adventures.
2013 was awesome.  Between getting engaged and getting Pope-Handed by the new Pontiff, this year had more surprises and blessings than I ever could have imagined.  The best part?  This is only the beginning.  Like most folks there's a lot of things that I'd like to see happen and a lot of goals I would like to accomplish before December rolls around again.  But before getting caught up in resolutions and weight-loss plans, or even dreaming up a magnificent "Things to Do" list... I really feel like I need step back and reflect on what it means to be a child of God and how this should impact my daily life.  It can be so easy to forget this, and I really think that God is inviting me to embrace this.  period.  Lead me Lord.

And finally... 
wedding picture o v e r l o a d....
We are very grateful to Tindall Farmer Photography for capturing some truly beautiful moments on our wedding day!  Just had to share a bunch few of my favorites!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

7 Quick Takes #3: On the First Month of Marriage

Learning to Live (and sleep) Together
It's hard to believe we've been married one month already!  The first month has brought with it many blessings, a lot of change, and things I didn't really expect... like learning how to sleep with my husband.  No really, we are trying to figure out how to sleep in the same bed.  We've both been used to sleeping in a full size bed alone, and we are quickly discovering that's not enough space for the both of us. Blanket Hog is not something I expected to hear in married life, but alas, I am a robber of covers, causing my husband to lose sleep :-p.  Oh the drama.

Solution?  Queen air mattress in the living room.  A temporary solution until we make it over to the mattress store.  Oh the adventurous life of newlyweds :-p

NFP.  Stuff just got real.  
I've been using Natural Family Planning for the past three years.  I started charting before I even met Michael, and now that we're married NFP is even more awesome.

Thank you :)
It's one thing to talk about NFP as an abstinent single woman before marriage, it's a whole other thing to start charting as a couple and really trying to be open to whatever God has planned for us.  "NFP-ing" together has been a great gift in our first month of marriage.  It has given me an even deeper appreciation for my husband and my fertility.  This has also been an opportunity to practice what I preach.  As spouses we are called to openness to life.  We said "yes" when my Deacon Daddy asked us "Will you accept children lovingly from God..." and we meant it.  And as we continue to chart, I think we are realizing that this is so much more than a way to "postpone or achieve pregnancy"; it is an invitation to pray about God's plan for our family on a regular basis. I know that NFP-ing isn't always going to be easy, but that's why we need the grace of the sacrament!

Marriage is not for me or my husband...
I was one of the millions of people who liked and shared the "Marriage Isn't for You" blog post by Seth Adam Smith that went viral this week.  I really liked what Seth had to say, and it was a wonderful reminder of what Michael and I signed up for a month ago.  But I also really liked Jeremy's blog Response which brought it all together:  Marriage isn't about you, OR your spouse... it's for God

In my Theology of the Body presentations for engaged couples over the years we spend a lot of time discussing why marriage is a sacrament and what that actually means.  God's love is free, total, faithful, and fruitful and as spouses we are called to witness that love to each other and to the world.  This is not about spending the rest of our lives trying to satisfy the deepest longings of our spouse's heart and make them happy all the time.  That's impossible.  God alone can satisfy the soul's ache, and our job as spouses is to lead one another closer to himThis is one of my favorite Catechism quotes that seems to capture this well:
"The 'natural desire' for of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it."- CCC no. 1718
Honestly, amongst all of the wonderful things that comes with being a newlywed, humility is one of those things God is helping me learn whether I like it or not.  I've talked and taught about marriage/TOB/NFP/etc... for the past three years as part of my job.  I think God had me in marriage preparation long before we were engaged because He knows how stubborn and hard headed Deanna can be.  The best way to learn is to teach... but it is one thing to teach it, it's another thing to live it on a daily basis.  That's where that grace kicks in. I've got a long way to go, but it's so nice to know that both God and my husband are going to love me unconditionally :)

She cooks!
Michael is the real cook in this relationship, but this past week I stepped up my game and made dinner and a dessert (for those who know me, this is kind of a big deal :) ).  We had a wedding reception at our parish last weekend and so I made Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cupcakes.  Yum.  The first couple of batches weren't so pretty, but by round 3 I was baking like a boss.  

Last night I tried my hand at this Roasted Garlic Chicken Penne recipe minus the roasted bell peppers.  It actually turned out really well and I'm surprised at how much I enjoy cooking.  My next goal is to start cooking healthier and to also put our brand new crockpot to work.  The only thing I made in it so far is a bean casserole soup, but I'm ready to step out of my comfort zone and try something new!  If you have any favorite (easy) crockpot recipes please share!!
--- 6 ---
This is a picture of us making our way back to our group after getting Pope-handed.  I'd just like to note that my husband is a stud.  That is all :)
I love my husband.  No Really.  I love him.   
In my single days I remember seeing Facebook posts from friends that said cheesy things like "I love my husband!"  or "I have the best husband everrrr!" and think Ok we got it... Thanks for sharing... But I have to admit that there are days when I just want to burst in the room like:

Sure, I realize we've only been married a month, and this "honeymoon phase" will end.  And yes, there have been moments when he is not my favorite person to be around... but I love him!  It's not just that he is super smart, funny, a great cook and handyman, etc... but he is helping me get to heaven.  This is the start of a great adventure. :)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Few Moments with Francis

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To be honest it is hard to know where to begin this story.  I feel like the important details are not so much how my husband and I got to shake Pope Francis' hand (although having a Pope Hand is pretty awesome), but more so the lesson the Holy Father taught us in brief moments we shared with him.   

While it might look like I'm blocking my husband from shaking the pope's hand,
this is actually my husband placing the Holy Father's hand into mine :)
My husband and I were married on October 5th in my hometown of Memphis, TN.  It sounds cliché to say this, but it really was the happiest day of my life.   After 3 years of working with engaged couples at my parish and teaching the Theology of the Body, it was wonderful to enter into the Sacrament of Marriage with my best friend, surrounded by our family and friends.  God is so good!  

Before we were even engaged, Michael and I knew that we would be going to Rome in October for our last Graduate Theology course.   Rome itself is an overwhelming experience.  Standing in basilicas that were built more than a thousand years before our country was founded gave me a deeper appreciation for our faith.  

From the very top of St. Peter's Basilica
One of my favorite places was St. Peter’s Basilica.   The moment we stepped into the building it felt like home.  The artwork was breathtaking, and the architecture impressive; but what made that basilica feel like I was standing in my home parish was the realization that this is where the foundations of our Catholic faith were laid.  It gave a whole new meaning to “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18).  

On October 16th my husband and I attended the papal audience in St. Peter’s Square.  We were able to obtain Sposi Novelli  (Newlywed) tickets, which meant that we were invited to wear our wedding attire to the audience and sit in a special section that was a little bit closer to the Holy Father.  

Our seats were surrounded by barricades and we were several rows back in our section, so we assumed that we might get to see the Pope from 100 feet away, or if we were really lucky he might come down our side of the barricade to wave hello.  No matter what happened we were grateful for this experience.  

After the Holy Father’s address, the Vatican security guards instructed us to file out of the section.  I assumed that meant everything was over now and it was time to go home.  And then we realized they are taking us to Pope Francis!  They looked at each couple, making sure the men had their jackets buttoned up appropriately, and that the women had the proper attire.  It was one of those moments where we could not help but see how God placed us in the right place, at the right time, and before we knew it we were standing at the center of the platform waiting for the Holy Father to come and greet us.  

It is hard to put into words the thoughts and emotions we experienced when we saw the Successor of Peter standing right in front of us.   

Handing Pope Francis a prayer card from our wedding
As the Holy Father shook Michael’s hand I said (in Spanish) “Holy Father, we are from the United States.  We are praying for you.”  Pope Francis shook my hand, and then Michael handed him a holy card that we had given to our wedding guests which has a picture of the Divine Mercy.  I told the Holy Father, “This is a gift from our wedding.  We were married on October 5th, the feast of St. Faustina.”  Pope Francis looked at both sides and smiled, and then he made his way to the next couple in line.  Michael and I stood there for a moment a bit awestruck at what had just happened. 

There’s one thing that struck me more than anything else about our brief moment with the Holy Father: He knows the gift of presence.  

When I think about our wedding reception and brief moments I was able to spend personally greeting our guests, I have to admit that I probably was not as focused on each person as I should have been.  Sometimes all I could do is blurt out a quick “Thanks for coming!  It’s great to see you!” before running back to the floor for another favorite song. 
And then I think about our moment with Pope Francis.  The Pope had to have greeted hundreds of people before he came to us.  He wasn’t just shaking hands and kissing babies because of some kind of obligatory Papal Duty; rather, he greeted each person, he looked at each one of us like a father lovingly looks at his children.    Even though he didn’t say a word, he listened to us.  He looked at us.  He smiled at us.  In that moment he was present to each person, sharing the love and joy of Christ even if it was only with a smile.  

Looking back at the pictures that were taken of us with Pope Francis it is still hard to believe that we were able to experience something so special.  The Holy Father gave us just a few seconds of his time, but he taught us that sharing the joy of our faith can be as simple as being joyful and fully present to each person we encounter.  That is probably one of the best gifts that we could ever receive as we begin our life as a married couple.   

Lord teach us how to be present to every person we encounter, and teach us how to be see the gift of each and every person we meet. 

be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid


Saturday, November 2, 2013

7 Quick Takes #2: Wedding & A Pope Hand

I'm a MRS. now! Here are 7 Quick Takes about the last month of wedding, honeymoon, and the start of married life :)
Two Become One

Michael and I got married on October 5th in Memphis, TN. Michael's best friend celebrated the Mass, my Deacon Daddy witnessed our vows, and we were surrounded by family friends. As cliche as it sounds, our wedding day was the happiest day of my life.

Dancing Queen

I forget just how much I love dancing until it is time for a wedding reception... And ours was so much fun!! Our Father-Daughter dance was EPIC (yes that is an appropriate use of the word)!!  Imagine Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" and then it is suddenly interrupted by "Jump on It".  Kudos to Mom for providing our light up glasses.  (If I can get a video of the dance up here I will... too fun not to share!)

You brought WHO on your honeymoon?
Before we were even engaged we knew that we would be going to Rome in October for our last Graduate Theology class.  We were able to invite guests to come with us on this trip, so we planned on bringing my parents and one of Michael's younger sisters.  We didn't want to uninvite anyone after this trip became our honeymoon because... it's ROME!  How often would we get to be with family in Roma??  Plus, this happened....

The Pope Hand
Meeting Pope Francis at the October 16th Wednesday Audience

I can't even begin to express what a gift this moment was.  I need to just dedicate an entire post to how this happened.  But to sum it all up: God is good and I'm even more grateful to be bilingual.  

Rome Sweet Home

Walking into St. Peter's Basilica for the first time was one of my favorite moments from our time in Rome.  It wasn't just the architecture or artwork that left me speechless (although those are breathtaking!); it was the feeling that I was home.  The history and significance of where we were standing just sort of hit me all at once, and it brought a whole new meaning to "I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."  
Right Place.  Right Time.

On our first day in Rome, Michael and I took a walk with my parents to the Farmacia.  We're almost home when all of a sudden Michael sees one of his friends from college!  His friend is a seminarian at the North American College, and asked if we would like tickets to the Papal Mass on October 13th when the Pope would be consecrating the world to Our Lady.   Oh yes!  So basically because of a chance encounter with my husband's friend we were able to go to the Papal Mass and get a tour of the NAC, and I got a chance to meet other friends of my husband's from his days in seminary.  

Did I mention I met my husband after he left the seminary? :)


After almost 3 years of working with engaged couples, teaching Theology of the Body, and promoting things like NFP, I finally got to step into Sacrament of Marriage with my best friend.  I love my husband, and I am so excited to see where God leads us.  God is so good.  

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Confessions of a Bride to Be

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That's a word that's been bugging me a lot these last few weeks.

So many magazine articles and wedding websites talk about being a beautiful bride.  There's all sorts of exercise, diet, and beauty regimens out there explaining how to "look your best for the big day!"

The words "beautiful" and "bride" just seem to go together... but for some reason I feel like I'm in a battle for beauty.

Sure, I have the dress... I have the hair extensions, purchased the over priced teeth whitening kit, I've been trying to lay off the gummie bears, taken up walking in the mornings with my friend Noelle, and tried to continue Turbo Fire workouts.  Still, there's a part of me that just doesn't feel like I'm going to be the bride I'm "supposed" to be.

But what does this mean exactly?
Am I worried that the zipper won't zip all the way?  Sure.
Am I worried my hair and makeup won't turn out according to plan? Yeah, a little bit.

But I feel like the desire to be a beautiful bride goes a little bit deeper than those things.

As our wedding day gets closer I've felt the need to take this to prayer.  And one day as I was driving around I heard this song for the first time.  It's the chorus that caught my attention:

Would you let me see beneath your beautiful?
Would you let me see beneath your perfect?
Take it off now girl, take it off now girl, I wanna see inside.
Would you let me see beneath your beautiful, tonight?

While the song might be talking about something totally unrelated to my situation, I really felt like God's been putting something similar on my heart:

Would you let me see beneath your desire for beauty?
Would you let me into this desire to be perfect?
Cast off what you think you're supposed to be, and let me enter into your heart.
Let me make you beautiful.  

I've listened to this song over and over again, and I still feel God nudging my heart (because let's face it I am both a little stubborn and a little slow.).

The desire for beauty is a good thing.  But what I'm slowly starting to realize is that my desire isn't just to look great in my dress, have fabulous hair, flawless makeup, and the glow of a new bride (while all of those things would be nice...), what I really want is to be the woman God created me to be.

I don't want to just be beautiful for a day... I want to have a beautiful heart.  I want to be the wife and mother God created me to be.  I want to learn gentleness, humility, gracefulness, kindness, and strength.

Come to think of it, I'd like to be a lot like her:

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, And there is no blemish in you.- Song of Songs 4:7

Our wedding is just 10 days away and I know that no matter what it will be a beautiful and holy celebration.  I also know that the Sacrament of Marriage is just one of the ways God is helping me to become the woman I'm supposed to be.  But the journey doesn't end there.

The quest for beauty is a quest for God Himself... God who is True, Good, and Beautiful.  

How wonderful would it be if I worried about the state of my soul as much as I worry about the beauty of my wedding day?

"Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God."- 1 Peter 3: 3-4

Lord would You come into my desire for beauty and show me how this desire will lead me closer to You?  Help me to let go of what I think I'm supposed to be, and help me to allow You to make me who I was created to be.

be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid


Friday, September 20, 2013

7 Quick Takes, #1: Ketchup!

 My very first "7 Quick Takes!". My favorite bloggers do this on a regular basis (namely, Conversion Diary, 4Life4Life, Captive the Heart, and NFPandMe), so I thought I might give it a go. :)  I'll use this an an opportunity to catch up on the past few months of silence.

So I haven't blogged all summer long... but I promise I have a good excuse! I spent most of the summer preparing and then taking my Comprehensive Exam for my MA Theology program.  One of the benefits to being in the same Graduate Program as my fiance is that we can procrastinate work together and encourage one another. The test was Pass/Fail so the pressure was on.  I thought it would be the end of me.... No really.   I'm pretty sure I win in the melt down department, but WE PASSED!  I may have overdosed on coffee and functioned on little to no sleep, but it was all worth it in the end.  Now we just have to finish our Thesis (50 pages to go!) and then the degree is ours!!

There's nothing like finding a hilarious YouTube video to entertain oneself and avoid the pains of studying and writing papers.  What's better is finding out that that hilarious video is part of a series of hilarious videos that can occupy your time for several hours at a time.  This one has been especially entertaining:


 Thankfully Michael's toes don't point up... so we're good.

My trip to Memphis in August went really well.  I met with some vendors, got to see wedding hair, makeup, and dress all put together... which basically = stuff's bout to get real.  One of the highlights from the trip was my Memphis Bridal Shower hosted by my amazing and wonderful Maid of Honor.  It's awesome to see friends from high school again!

Gina, Me, Stacy, Matt, Katey and Erica (MOH)

One of my "major" preparations for the wedding was making the decision to get extensions.  I went from a bob to 16 inches of "Brazilian" hair.  After a month of having it in I think I'm finally getting used to it, but seeing people's reactions has been super entertaining.  My favorite so far has been the people who thought I just kept my hair pinned back all the time.  If only it were that easy!

I've recently been introduced to The Doctor:

We're on Season 2.  Me gusta.  :)
Michael and I have been reading 33 Days to Morning Glory as part of our final preparation for our wedding day.  The 33rd day is the day of our wedding and following the Nuptial Mass we will consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary.  This is my second time to go through the book and it is absolutely wonderful.  The Blessed Mother has been a very special part of our courtship, and it has been important to have her as a constant intercessor.  We can never love her more than Jesus does :)

I'm getting married in 15 days!!!!!  Who knew that 3 years of waiting could come down to just 2 short weeks.  We're leaving for the first part of our trip next Thursday, getting to Memphis around October 1, and October 5th is the big day!  You'll definitely be hearing more about this later... God willing :)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Life Out of the Boat

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Matthew 14:22-33 is my all time favorite bible story.  Hands down it is THE story that God leads me back to over and over again to challenge me to trust Him with everything... even the scariest and most overwhelming of details.  

This of course is the story of Jesus walking on water.  We've all heard the story at least once in our lives... How the disciples were in a storm, they get scared, Jesus shows up and calls Peter out of the boat, Peter gets out...walks...sinks... and Jesus comes to the rescue.  Ta daaa the Gospel of the Lord.

But it's the details of this story that keep grabbing my attention.

The disciples are in their boat "being tossed about by the waves for the wind was against it."  Needless to say, things were probably a little tense on deck.  And then to add to the situation they think they see a ghost walking towards them on the sea.  But then Scripture tells us that "At once Jesus spoke to them, 'Take courage, it is I; -do not be afraid'" (Mt 14:27).  Peter speaks up "Lord if it is you command me to come to you on the water."  And Jesus says "Come."  

Imagine the intensity of that moment for Peter.  The wind and waves are blowing like crazy, the disciples are trying to get everything under control so the boat doesn't sink, there may or may not be a ghost out on the water, and Peter decides that this is a really good moment to trust Christ with his life.  

And he does.

Peter takes a step, another step, but then something happens.  He loses eye contact.  Scripture says that "when Peter saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord save me!'"  And notice that Jesus doesn't just let Peter sink or laugh and allow Peter to drown.  It says that "Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him and said to him 'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'  And after they got into the boat, the wind died down."  

We all have moments where we lose that eye contact with Christ.  We focus so much on the wind and waves of life that we forget who is out there walking this journey with us.  We get distracted by to do lists, deadlines, problems, sickness, etc... and just life period... and we start to focus more on those details than on Christ.  And it is when we start to lose eye contact that  life can start to feel the most overwhelming.  But Christ doesn't abandon us. While it might not feel like he immediately stretches out his hand, he does come to our aid in the midst of distress and reminds us of his overwhelming love.    

Over the past several years, I've come to realize that life outside of the boat is where we are called to live as Christians.  Christ invites us to step outside of our comfort zones and into an adventure of trust and confidence in his mercy and love.  

But Christ doesn't just show up when life is perfectly calm, the sea is still, and there's a rainbow of happiness of peace in the background.  In fact, there are times when God chooses some of the most intense moments to ask us to trust him.  Just like the disciples were trying to get control of their boat and their fear, Christ sometimes uses the times when the wind and waves of our daily lives to invite us to trust him even more.  

This isn't always easy.  I know that there are times when I would much rather stay curled up in a corner and just hang on for the bumpy ride.  Sometimes just looking over the edge of the boat is enough to make me think "No thanks God, I'll pass."  Or I focus so much on the craziness happening that I forget that Christ is inviting me to go out beyond what I think I can do for myself and allow him to do the impossible.  

To be honest, I'm dealing with a lot of "wind and waves" myself right now.  I'm preparing to take my comprehensive exam for my Masters degree, trying to accomplish several different projects at work, working on a thesis, and wedding planning all at the same time.  Needless to say, eye contact with Christ has been a bit of a struggle lately.  But in the middle of all of this I realize that it is in these busy/hectic times that God can show off the most.  If I'm willing to make Christ the focus and take just one step, one moment at a time, then it will be that much easier get through the rest of the year and beyond.  

And even after the wedding and graduation are over with, I know that the "out of the boat" adventures will continue.  But that's the beautiful thing about the Christian's walk with Christ... there's never a dull moment.  While there are times when Christ asks us to be at peace with him in the boat (see Matthew 8:23-27), there are many other times when Christ calls us by name to a daring adventure out on the waves.  

Question is, are we willing to take that first step and trust him with everything?  

be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid


"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." 
- Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why Easter Vigil ROCKED

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I don't know if it is possible to have a "favorite Mass", but the Easter Vigil 2013 is going to go down in my book as one of the most life changing experiences ever.  I'll give you a rundown of my favorite moments:

Christ Our Light, Thanks be to God!
For as long as I can remember, the very beginning of the Easter Vigil Mass has got to be one of my favorite moments.  The Church is dark, the Easter fire is lit, and the celebrant walks into the Church with the light of the Easter candle singing "CHRIST OUR LIGHT!"  Slowly but surely the congregation's candles illuminate the sanctuary.  There's something about looking around the Cathedral at hundreds of candles that gives me a very concrete visual of what it means to be the Body of Christ.  Together we overcome the darkness.

The Exultet
Not only is it beautiful to stand there holding the light of our candles, we get to hear someone sing the Easter Proclamation!  #bestchantofalltime.

Front Row Seat
Working for the Church has many perks... like getting a front row seat to 28 baptisms!  Ok, so it wasn't a front row "seat" it was more like "Deanna stand close to the baptismal font and help if people need help." That was awesome.  I got to see the faces of women, men, and children as they walked into the font with our Bishop and the Pastor, and the radiant joy on their faces as they stepped out.  Neophytes are extra awesome.

He's One of Us!
Another highlight of this Mass was seeing my best friend's husband enter full communion with the Catholic Church.  It just made the mass that much more special :)  They've been married almost one year and are expecting their first child in July.  I think I saw more joy and excitement on their faces that night than on their wedding day!  #Catholicandproud
L-R Me, Michael, Blake (baby Catholic!) and his wife Becca
Shortly after we took this picture, I suggested that Michael (my boyfriend of almost 3 years) and I take a picture together at the altar.  We hardly ever get pictures taken together, so why not do so when we're in our Easter best!  We took our places at the foot of the altar when Michael said "Deanna..."  

Which was soon followed by "Deanna, will you marry me?" :

I, of course, said yes!  Which was followed by this pretty awesome shot:

I love love love this picture... Mostly because the tabernacle... the Eucharist is at the very center of it.  Right where it should be.  It reminds me of Venerable Fulton Sheen's Three to Get Married.

And that is why I haven't written since the Easter Vigil :-p  Life has been a bit of a whirlwind since March 30th!  Between work, grad school, and wedding planning... I haven't really been sure where to begin on the next entry!

There's a lot to share, and I think it is perfectly appropriate that I began this blog, "Getting Out of the Boat" on the night that my beloved proposed.  Preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage in the midst of one of the busiest years of my life will be an out of the boat experience for sure.  When I look at everything that I have to get done between now and the end of the year it can feel a little overwhelming... but there's this beautiful peace in all of it knowing that on October 5, 2013 I will marry my best friend.

So at this point, I sincerely ask for your prayers.  In the midst of all of the wedding planning, writing a thesis, taking comprehensive exams and continuing ministry at the parish,  things can feel a little crazy! But I know that if I keep eye contact on Christ and keep Him at the center of all of this, 2013 is going to end up as one of the best years thus far!

There's no way we're going to be able to do this on our own.  But with Christ at the center we don't have to.

be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid


"Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death..."
Song of Songs 8:6

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lent is Not My Favorite

p a x

I've always had a love/hate relationship with Lent.  It's my least favorite season of all... but in a strange, twisted sort of way it's the season that I look forward to the most.

Truth is, I don't like Lent because it forces me to realize what a weeny I am when it comes to taking up my cross.

Sure, I start out in those days before Ash Wednesday like:

But before we've even hit the halfway point I'm like:


I have to admit that this year my Lent was a lot more like Jacque up there and a lot less like taking up my cross and following Christ.  The thing is, I don't like being uncomfortable.  I don't like making sacrifices, and I certainly don't enjoy being reminded of how weak I am.  Whether it's not praying like I said I would, or eating that food that I swore I wouldn't touch until Easter Sunday, there comes a point every Lent where there's a temptation to kind of throw in the towel because I'm not as strong as I thought I'd be.

Lent 2013 was definitely not my "best".  Just when I thought I had conquered a deadly sin, there it was right back in my face again, bigger and uglier than ever.   It was like week after week I had a magnifying glass highlighting some dark spots on my heart that I hadn't thought about in a long time.  I'm so grateful for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and that it was offered daily in my parish this Lent, but there were definitely moments when I had to ask myself, "Have I wasted my Lent?"

But as we entered Holy Week, I was reminded that even though I wasn't entering into the Triduum with a squeaky clean "Lenten report card" or basking in the feeling of reaching some new level of holiness, Christ had been walking with me through it all.  No matter how far or hard I fell, it wasn't Deanna who was picking herself up again, it was always Christ standing there with outstretched arms of love and mercy.

And that's what Lent is all about.

Lent reminds me that it's not about Deanna.  It's not about how organized I can be when it comes to my prayer life, and it certainly isn't about how holy I can become by my own efforts.  It's all about the cross and learning how to embrace it.  Not only that, it's about relying completely and totally on God's love and mercy to continue persevering in faith.

As we celebrate the Triduum I am reminded that what makes Good Friday so good and what makes the crucifix so beautiful is that it wasn't the end of the story.

The same is true for our Lenten journey.  Lent is not the end of the story.  Sin and death did not get the final word.  And even though we may fall, perhaps even struggle with the same sins over and over again, Christ's mercy triumphs over all things.  If we're willing to take that one step towards God, God will always make us whole again in His love and mercy.

Lent is not my favorite.  It reminds me of how weak I am by my own efforts, and how challenging it is to really take up that cross to follow Christ.  And yet, this is exactly why I love Lent so much.  It reminds me that I am weak, but He is strong.  I am a sinner, but Christ is my Savior.  I am broken, but God will always make me whole again.

be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid


"It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus].  Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession.  Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus."- Philippians 3:12-14