September 25, 2013

Confessions of a Bride to Be

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Beautiful.  

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

d*


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. ๐Ÿ™‚  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.  ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!
June 25, 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

d*

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

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:

from holyfamilyfishers.org

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 ๐Ÿ™‚  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

d*

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
March 30, 2013

Lent is Not My Favorite

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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:

from CatholicMemes.com

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

d*

“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