Archives for June 2014

June 26, 2014

How the One Question You Aren’t Supposed to Ask Helped My Spiritual Life

p a x

It was about mid-March when I met with a young Spanish speaking couple preparing to baptize their son.  I was really excited to meet with them because they had just finished marriage preparation the year before, and now it was time to baptize their newborn.  Nothing makes my day like seeing one of our newlyweds living their vocation!  🙂
Towards the end of our meeting the husband asked me, “I have a question for you, and I hope I don’t offend….¿Estás esperando?”  It took me an extra second to understand what he said because Esperar = to wait for, to hope for, and it’s actually one of my most favorite Spanish words.  
But then I realized he was asking me THAT question: 
Are you expecting?”   
I laughed and said I didn’t know.  I told them that my husband and I were really praying about having a baby, and that we’d find out in the next few days if we were pregnant or not.
What made this man’s question extra interesting was that right before our meeting I had spent some time in the adoration chapel specifically praying about our desire to have a baby.  In my journal I wrote something like, “Lord, you know the desires of my heart.  You know that we’ve been praying about having a baby and that we are open to becoming parents. No matter what Your will be done, and please help me to be at peace with that.”
So when the man asked ”  ¿Estás esperando? (Are you expecting)?”  I wasn’t really as mortified as I would normally have been.  His wife shook her head in disbelief that he had actually asked THE FORBIDDEN QUESTION, but we laughed and they said that they really hoped I was pregnant or would be soon.  
When they left I laughed again, wondering if maybe this was God’s way of giving me an “Annunciation Moment” or some kind of heads up that maybe our prayers had been answered. 
Fast Forward 2 days:  
Definitely not pregnant.  Definitely not laughing.
Suddenly all the humiliation that I would have felt just days before sank in.  Have I gained THAT much weight?  I look awful!  What sort of cruel joke is this Lord?  I cried, I whined, and I pouted.  
At some point during the day the question replayed in my mind:  Estás esperando?  Which literally means:  Are you waiting for?  Are you hoping for?  
God reminded me that during adoration I had specifically said “Your will be done.”  And now I needed to follow up on those words of surrender.  The question was not an offensive jab; rather, it was an invitation to trust.

Deanna, are you waiting for Me?  Are you full of hope and trust?  
Scripture tells us over and over again to wait for the Lord, to hope in the Lord, and to trust that God’s plans are perfect:

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord!” – Psalm 27:14

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord.” – Psalm 130:5-6

And a personal favorite: 

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you…” – Jeremiah 29:11-14

That’s when I realized that it didn’t matter if I was praying about getting pregnant, or just praying about doing God’s will at home,work, and in the world.  God was inviting me to trust in Him, to surrender to Him, to wait for Him.  
And so, the next time I was asked “¿Estás esperando?”  (which was about a month later) I could smile.  Even though I had to answer that I wasn’t pregnant, I knew I needed to take a moment to reflect on whether or not I’ve been waiting, hoping and trusting God the best that I can.   
Today if you were to ask me “¿Estás esperando?”  I’d say that I’m working on it, and really trying to surrender a little more of that trust on a daily basis. 
I’d also tell you, “Si…”  
…about the beginning of February 2015.
P.S. No, we don’t know it is a boy. But those shoes were cute 🙂

Please pray for us 🙂

be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid


Jesus en ti confio

June 7, 2014

How I Met My Husband {part 2}

This is the story of how God used the internet to not only lead me to my husband, but how this adventure in online dating taught us the beauty of God’s perfect timing and God’s plan for our lives.

{Part Two}

I’m sure you can understand the wave of relief that washed over the both of us as we walked towards each other confidently confirming that this was in fact the person we had spent the last six weeks speaking to.  
Michael wasn’t a creepy old man and neither was I.
So far so good.
We said our excited hellos and hugged each other.  I remember it was one of those good bear hugs you get from a dear friend.  “Wow, You’re real!  This is amazing!” he said.  
I think we both needed a moment to get over the shock that this was actually happening.  He was here.  I was here.  And now we got to spend the weekend figuring out what would happen next.
The original plan was ice cream, but due to a GPS failure we ended up at Starbucks instead.  The conversation was just as easy as before, only this time Michael got to witness my goofy smiles in person.  At one point Michael said, “The family that is hosting me and Sayf this weekend wanted to make sure that I told them where I was going and who you were, because you know… you could be an axe murderer or something…”
I laughed and pointed out that the company car I was driving did have space for a body or two in the trunk… but then realized, “Oh.  I didn’t tell anyone where I was going….”  We laughed and agreed that that probably hadn’t been my smartest decision of the week…

a kinda sorta really important side note:  

Don’t ever ever ever do that!!  I should have told the family I was living with where I was, because in all truth Michael could have been fifty shades of crazy from the darkest reaches of the internet.  I was confident he wasn’t going to put me in the trunk of my car, but hey.. you can never be too careful, right?  So if I can offer any online dating advice just don’t do what I did.  We laugh about it now, but seriously… what was I thinking?!?! Anyway, back to our story:  
Despite my failure to take the proper precautions, I really appreciated how comfortable I felt around Michael.  We stayed at Starbucks until it closed, and then I drove him back to his host family’s home and we sat outside and talked some more.
Towards the end of the evening, Michael asked if he could hold my hand (he had been told about the forced hand holding experience with the other guy I met from CatholicMatch).  When my hand rested in his for the first time I remember thinking It fits!”  I felt safe.  I felt like our friendship had the potential to evolve into something very special, and we had the entire weekend to figure that out.  
Now, it would be easy to say that from the moment we laid eyes on each other we knew that this was the ONE, but that just wouldn’t be true.  As wonderful as our first “date” had been, the next day was a little different. 
It wasn’t that Michael wasn’t a perfect gentleman on our trips to dinner, the bookstore, and a walk through the park,  but something was just different.  Perhaps it was his rant umm, prolonged and passionate explanation of the evil of shows like American Idol, and how they reflect the lack of values in our society (something else we laugh about now). But by the end of the evening as I drove back home I started wondering if this had been a good idea. 
I remember calling my parents that evening and telling them “I don’t know!  I just don’t know what’s going to happen!  I mean he’s nice but.. but I just don’t know!”  I think that I was waiting for that moment to knowto have that AHA! moment in which I knew exactly what was going to happen next…and it hadn’t happened.  Then my Dad gave me some advice that changed the entire weekend for me: 

“Deanna, don’t overthink this.  Enjoy the moment.”

I really appreciated my Dad saying that.  It could have been just as easy for him to tell me that maybe I shouldn’t hang out with Michael, or maybe this wasn’t meant to be, but he didn’t.  Don’t overthink this.  Enjoy the moment.  This wasn’t license to do whatever or to not care about the time I was spending with Michael.  But it was a solid reminder to be at peace, to have fun, and to put this in God’s hands.  
I prayed about it again that night and decided that my Dad was right.  Perhaps this was just another opportunity to get out of the boat and trust God with the details.  
I picked Michael up early Saturday morning, and we drove to a park close to the San Antonio Zoo.  Since I was still in the middle of the 54-day rosary novena, we decided to pray the rosary together at the start of our day.  This was about the time that we made Mary the patroness of our discernment/relationship.  
And once again, the Blessed Mother must have done her thing because the rest of the day was absolutely wonderful. 
Matthias the Mutt, keeping me company at work for 4 yrs
We did all sorts of things around town: a museum, lunch, a movie, a ginormous bookstore, ice cream, and even a trip to the toy store.  Michael insisted that I needed a buddy for my office, so he bought me a puppy (which remains on my desk to this day).  

If I could name the “aha!” moment in which I knew I was falling in love with Michael, I would say it was after seeing “Prince of Persia”.  I had gone to the restroom, texted my Mom something vague like “Oh my goodness Mommmmyy…..*smiley face*” and walked back out to Michael where my hand met his.  It was like a moment of clarity.  Yes, this is supposed to happen.

Sunday was just as fun as Saturday, and we spent the entire day together again, which included going to Mass, touring the Alamo, and lots more hand holding.  It had been a really good weekend. 

Now the big question was, what happens next?  We had finally met in person, we enjoyed spending time together, and we knew that this was definitely worth continuing.  But now that our weekend had ended we realized that we still had the challenge of long-distance in our discernment.  And this really was a discernment.  We weren’t playing around and this wasn’t a summer fling.  If we were going to start dating it was because we were discerning the vocation of married life, which meant God needed to play an active role.

July 2010: Making Ice Cream at Casa Johnston

And He did.

Michael and his family invited me up to Henderson for the 4th of July holiday weekend, and on July 2nd Michael and I shared our first kiss and officially became a couple.  At the end of July, Michael came back to visit me in San Antonio and he met my family who was visiting from Memphis.

By the end of the summer we had officially become a couple and already met the families.  So really, things moved much faster than I think we originally thought when those first emails and phone calls were made. 

In the months that followed, I moved to Dodge City for a new job, and Michael got a job in the Diocese of Tyler, TX.  We had a long distance relationship for a little over two years, and then Michael moved to Dodge City in November of 2012.  We were engaged after the Easter Vigil Mass in 2013, got married October 5, 2013

And I can’t help but see how God’s hand was part of every single detail. 

When I look back on how God led us to one another I can’t help but admit how perfect God’s timing was.  Michael and I didn’t meet one another a moment too soon, or a moment too late.  While my teens and early twenties may have had phases of frustration that I wasn’t dating, or worrying that God was the only one who would ever love me, I can look at my journey and see how God was just preparing me for my husband.

Sure, I had to wait 24 years for my first date, my first boyfriend, and my first kiss. 

But it was totally, 100% worth the wait.
be at peace
walk on water
be not afraidd*