Archives for January 2014

January 25, 2014

7 Quick Takes #6

Happy Feast Day St. Francis De Sales!  

Let’s kick off #7QT with one of my favorite quotes by this awesome Saint:

“Do not fear what may happen tomorrow.  The same loving Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day.  Either he will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.  Be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”

Boom.  Thank you St. Francis.
Save all the babies!
Big shout out to all y’all who participated in the 2014 March for Life in Washington D.C.!   600,000 of you standing up for life during crazy cold weather?  Amazing.  I attended the March for Life in 2001-2004 with my high school (we even led the March my freshman year!) and it definitely made a huge impact on my life.  If only the media would pick up on just how incredible this event is….

Deacon Dad is famous again
My Deacon Dad served at the Vigil for Life Mass at the Basilica and he even showed up on EWTN a couple of times.  Not that you need any help finding the 6’9″ deacon… but just in case….

I’ve officially begun the adventure that is teaching Natural Family Planning!  This is very exciting but also one of those out of the boat experiences and I ask for your prayers!  I’ve taught theology of the body for 3 years, so now I get to combine faith with science and hopefully share with couples why God’s plan is the best plan.  One of my favorite parts of teaching NFP so far is having my husband right by my side.   Hearing him talk about why he is glad we use NFP and how he sees it strengthening our relationship just makes me love him even more.

If there are any NFP Teachers out there with some words of advice as we get started in this ministry, please share your wisdom and experience with us! 

The Nominees are in…
I was shocked and surprised to see that I was nominated for “Best Under Appreciated Blog” for the 2014 Sheenazing Awards!  Thanks so much!  God bless the dear soul that nominated me πŸ™‚    Click on that link to vote or just go check out the list of fabulous Catholic bloggers (and Non-Papists) and vote for them!  If you don’t do anything else, check out Bonnie at A Knotted Life. This woman is  amazing! 
Beauty & Body
Every now and then SoulPancake posts something that touches that special spot in my heart that causes tears, laughter, goosebumps or all of the above.  One of their latest videos did just that:


The poem at the end… dang.  Lord give me the grace and strength to say I have a beautiful body (and mean it!)

Still in my Mid-Twenties… right?

A week from today I’ll be 8 years into my twenties.  Thirty is just around the corner, but it isn’t here yet!  I remember writing a list when I turned 20 that had things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30.  When I was thinking back to some of the things I put on the list I realized I’ve already accomplished several of them:  
  • Study abroad (DONE)
  • Help someone become Catholic. (DONE)
  • Do mission work in another country (DONE)
  • Get married. (DONE)
  • Go to Rome. (DONE)
  • Have an audience with the Pope. (DONE, bonus points for Pope Hand)
I need to try to find the actual list amongst my many journals, because I do have some time to get more things marked off.  I know one of the things I listed was to write a book, but we’ll see what 28 & 29 have in store.  For now I’m content with just trying to be a better blogger πŸ™‚

Birthdays are just a great time for me to remember that if God has done this much this far into my life, what other adventures are in store?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!
January 11, 2014

7QT #5: New Year & New Adventures

Not gonna lie… I’m still trying to soak in this whole “2014” thing.  This means that it has been ten years since my high school graduation, six years since my college graduation, five years since I completed my mission year in Mexico, and almost four years since I met my husband.  A whole decade has just whooshed by…. and here I am married, working for the Church, and living in Southwest Kansas.  Whodathunkit?  
I have no idea what the best part about 2014 is going to be, and that’s actually really exciting.  This time last year I had hopes that Michael and I would at least get engaged in 2013.  I never would have imagined that the year would have included getting married on my patron saint’s feast day, going on an incredible 2 week honeymoon in Rome, and I certainly did not imagine getting to meet Pope Francis with my husband.  The year was full of blessings, and more than anything it was filled with reminders that God has bigger plans for me than I could ever imagine for myself.  

Like most Americans, I’d like to get into a shape other than round during this New Year.  Michael and I enrolled at the YMCA last month, and we started a 12 week program that’s supposed to help us have a better workout schedule.  Three words:  No me gusta.  Not because the workout is hard, but the facility is not near big enough.  I end up lifting my little dumbbells next to the Hulk and feel ridiculous.  Humility humility… but we’ll get the hang of it eventually I guess.  I might have to go there at weird hours when no one is there, but I gotta do something!  
I’ve been more motivated to work on my spiritual goals than my physical goals.  I’ve sensed the need to focus on the virtue of humility, so I decided to try to make the Litany of Humility part of my daily prayers.  I taped it to my desk and I’ve been praying it every day as soon as I get to my desk.  It’s still not my favorite prayer, and I still find some of the lines incredibly difficult to pray, but something tells me this prayer is going to help me a LOT this year.   
— 5 —

The New Year’s commitment that I’m most excited about is finally signing up for a Holy Hour at my parish.  I say finally because I’ve worked in the parish for three years, we offer 24 hr adoration, and up until this month I had never made regular visits to the adoration chapel.  Terrible!  My office is a 2 minute walk to the chapel and I was only making quick trips to adoration every now and then.  My prayer life has always been better when adoration is a regular part of it, and working in ministry has taught me the need to “sit at the master’s feet” and just be with him.   I know that there will be times when I really don’t “feel” like going, and I know there are times when I might not think that I’m getting anything out of those silent moments with Our Lord.  But I also know that this might be the best thing that I do this year.  Sometimes I need to be with Christ in the boat before walking on water..  
We found out today that we are moving next month!  Just to a new apartment… but it’s a big move for us nonetheless!  Michael moved in with me after we got married, so my 2 bedroom apartment got a little more crowded.  I’ve lived here since I moved to Dodge, so I’m looking forward to starting fresh in a new place with my husband.  The only thing we’re not sure about right now is when we’ll be able to move in and how that it going to work out with our current landlords.  But if everything goes smoothly the Johnstons will be in their new home before Lent begins.  Please pray for us!
Deacon Dad: The Meme.

I made this meme from one of my favorite pictures taken at the wedding. The ever hilarious “Catholic Memes” Facebook page shared it and… Oila! Deacon Dad is all over the internet. I know his meme is not “viral” like babies biting their brother’s fingers or sneezing panda babies, but for the Jones family dad reached a new level of internet awesomeness πŸ™‚

I also made this follow up for your everyday mass experience πŸ™‚

Thanks Deacon Dad πŸ™‚ 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!
January 10, 2014

Life *In* the Boat

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I’ve mentioned before that the scripture that best describes my spiritual journey is Matthew 14:22-33, The Walking on the Water.  It seems like God is constantly challenging me to step out of my boat and comfort zone and trust Him with everything.  Hence the name, Life Out of the Boat πŸ™‚
But Wednesday’s Gospel reminded me that sometimes we need to be in the boat before we start jumping out in the wild wind and waves. 
Mark 6:45-52 tells the story of how Jesus comes walking on the sea towards the disciples as they are being tossed about in the boat.  The disciples are frightened, think they see a ghost, and Jesus tells them, “Take courage, it is I! Do not be afraid!  Jesus gets into the boat with them, and suddenly everything is at peace.  No wind, just calm seas now that he is in the boat.
During the homily, Father reminded us that sometimes we need to invite Christ into our boats.  We need to realize that the peace we are looking for in the midst of chaos and confusion is often found when we ask Christ to be part of our lives in a more concrete way. 
As I thought about this throughout the day I realized that this is where I am in my own “boat adventure” with the Lord.  January is the beginning of my busiest season at work.  It’s also the time of year where I’m looking ahead and realizing all of the many things that need to get done.  This year is a little different because I’m also preparing for some big changes in the months to come. 
I found out last week that my pastor is being moved to another parish, and that we’ll have a new pastor at the beginning of February.  I’ve gone through pastor changes before, but this is the first time that it impacts me as both a parishioner and a parish employee.  New pastor means a new boss, and likely some change in the life of the parish.  I’m certain that good things are ahead, but it is still challenging.  My current pastor is the one who hired me, and the one who has taught and formed me over these past few years.  He’s been an incredible mentor to me, and is the one who has shown me that ministry more than anything else is about serving the needs of the Body of Christ. His announcement about the upcoming move brought on a fair share of tears.  Change is hard, but it is also an indication that God is at work.
In the midst of this time of transition there’s a temptation to want to conquer all of these things head on without taking the time to pray about them.  “I CAN HANDLE THIS! Let me out of the boat!  I’m ready!!  BRING ON THE CHANGE!”  But the truth is if we don’t take the time to pause and pray before diving out of the boat we can set ourselves up to sink.  
I feel like God is putting on my heart to be still and invite him into the boat.  This is going to be a busy year.  It is going to be a challenging year.  But  I think that 2014 will be yet another opportunity to grow as the woman God created me to be.  Not only will I experience change and challenges at work, but I’m also learning and growing in my vocation as a wife and discerning when I’m called to be a mother.  In all of these things, whether at home or work, I need to make sure I’m resting in the peace of Christ before hopping over the side of the boat to conquer waves on my own.
Peter started to sink because he looked away from Christ and the waves and wind overcame him.  If we don’t take the time to look at Christ, particularly in moments of change and transition, we might not realize that God is preparing us for what is ahead by surrounding us with His peace. 

Walking on water is an incredible adventure, but it also requires asking our Lord to be part of the journey. 

Be at peace
Walk on Water 
Be not Afraid

January 2, 2014

The Pain & Beauty of Humility

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I’ve never had trouble reciting a prayer until this one: The Litany of Humility. It is the kind that is so good for the soul it makes me cringe.  

It starts off gently:  

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me! 
Me: Oh yes that’s nice. Please hear me meek and humble Jesus!

And then it continues:

From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me Jesus.  
Hm… OK Lord I guess I don’t need so much of that.  Yes, Lord deliver me from this.

From the desire of being loved, deliver me Jesus.  
Whoa there! Hold up now…

And it only gets harder from there with sentences like:

From the desire of being praised…being preferred to others…approved…  
But wait!  I like affirmation! Heck, I like being liked!
From the fear of being despised…ridiculed…humiliated…  
AH!  But that stuff is painful!

Then the litany switches gears, and just when I didn’t think it couldn’t get any harder, it does:
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,  
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed…
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, 
provided that I may become as holy as I should...

By the last sentence there is a small part of me that wonders what the consequences of this prayer will be.  What on earth did I just ask for?!  I like being liked!  I like being praised for doing a good job!  It kills me when I know people are unhappy with me.  Why would I want to embrace a virtue that makes me so uncomfortable?
Of course, the short answer is this:   
Because Christ did.  

 “…He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave… he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:7-8
Though the cross is painful, we also know that it isn’t the end of the story.  Humility can be painful, but it can also be beautiful when it is united to Christ.   

There’s no doubt in my mind that the reason the Litany of Humility is so challenging for me to pray is because I need it so much.  Humility is hard.  It means embracing a cross that isn’t always so fun to carry.  It also means recognizing that I am nothing without Christ, and without Him playing an active role in my life, I can do nothing at all.  

In his December 19th homily Pope Francis said that “Humility is necessary for fruitfulness.” He explained that we cannot bear fruit in our lives without God’s help and that we must acknowledge that we can do nothing on our own.  He encourages us to pray “ β€˜Lord, I want to be fruitful.’ I desire that my life should give life, that my faith should be fruitful and go forward and be able to give it to others. Lord, I am sterile, I can’t do it. You can. I am a desert: I can’t do it. You can.”

As someone who works in ministry full-time, this is something I need to pray more often.  It is easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking that I can do everything on my own. “I’ll start this program!”  “I’ll give this talk!” “I’ll do it all!”  And in the middle of running my own show, pride is a comfortable thing to settle into.  Yet, it seems like the work I do is so much more meaningful and impactful when I get out of the way and take the time to ask “God, what are you calling me to do?”  Even my own prayer life and walk with Christ seems more life giving when I stop trying to push my agenda on God.  

I read through St. Josemaria Escriva’s 17 Signs of a Lack of Humility and there’s no doubt that I need a lot of work.  In this new year I feel like God is calling me to stop asking “What does Deanna want to get done?” and instead make the effort to pray “Your will, not mine, be done” on a daily basis.  And although it’s not my favorite prayer, I’m also trying to pray the Litany of Humility at the start of my work day.  These are just small steps that I think could lead to a very interesting and fruitful year! 

Humility will probably never be an “easy” virtue for me to embrace.  The good news is that this is where God’s grace kicks in.  By acknowledging our dependence on God, we make more room for him to work in and through our lives.  When we let go of things like the desire of being loved and the fear of being rejected we embrace the cross and the joy of our faith more fully.  

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours 
(even if it hurts).

be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid