New location, same inspiration

Last summer I completed the training to be an online instructor for http://www.CatholicMarriagePrep.com. It has been an incredible experience so far, to journey with engaged couples in an understanding of God’s plan for marriage, through the details of the Sacrament, and finally on the Relationship Tools to give them a strong foundation for their marriage. logo final cmp print fond blanc version2

I am so blessed to be a part of this ministry, and I strongly believe in their vision for preparing Catholic couples for marriage (dedicated to the building of strong, christ-centered marriages). But of course, marriage is a journey, not a destination. Our destination is heaven, and marriage helps us get there.

Therefore, I am excited to start blogging for the www.catholicmarriageprep.com/blog to share my spiritual insights with all couples who have just started the journey or who have been traveling for a while 🙂 My first post went up last week on Loving God Through Marriage, and you can see it here:
http://www.catholicmarriageprep.com/blog/entry/loving-god-through-marriage

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I will no longer be posting to this site, so please make sure to subscribe to Catholic Marriage Prep’s blog so you don’t miss out on any of the great content! You can subscribe by clicking this icon in the black bar at the top of the page:
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Thanks to all of you who have followed my interiorhouselife blog over the last 2 years, and I hope that the marriage prep blog will be able to bless so many more people!

Pink Candles and Presents for Jesus

Yesterday marked Lily’s favorite day of Advent, because we finally lit the pink candle! She has been waiting all of two weeks for this event. She loves pink, and I love this week, too, because in the midst of a penitential season, we get to get excited for the coming of Jesus! The pink candle is for Gaudete, which means a time to rejoice!

It’s also time to get serious about preparing for the coming of Jesus. For Timothy, who’s 4, this is hard. He counts down the days until Christmas, we light the Advent Wreath, we talk about Jesus. And he knows Christmas is supposed to be about Jesus, but all he really wants to do is talk about presents. He already has wrapped many of his own toys and put them under the tree because he is so excited about presents.

In fact, last night, he was complaining about not wanting to eat dinner. Then, all on his own, he motivated himself to eat by telling himself if he ate his dinner then he could open a present under the tree. A present that he wrapped himself, of a toy he already owned. But he ate his dinner!

As parents, we must try to stay focused on the reason for the season. I know many parents do sacrifice beads, or have their kids put straw in the manger when they do good deeds to make a nice soft bed for Jesus. But straw just doesn’t seem that soft to me, and making a bed for Jesus hasn’t been all that exciting of an idea for Timothy.

So, enter presents. We have a video called, “The best present of all is Jesus.” And a book that says we give presents to each other because it’s Jesus’ birthday, and he gave us the gift of himself. And the Magi brought presents for Jesus. And my favorite Veggie Tales of all time, “The Toy that Saved Christmas,” talks about how Christmas isn’t about getting, but about giving. So what can we give to Jesus at Christmas? Timothy thinks He would like a train. And He probably would, right? But what else can we give? We can give our hearts.

Back in high school, I wanted a practical way to give my heart to Jesus as a present. So I cut out a bunch of hearts, and every time I did something good or avoided something bad to love Jesus, I put a heart in a little present box. Then, by Christmas, I had a box full of hearts for him. Since we would get to Mass early, I stopped in the chapel and offered my box of hearts to him. I did this several advents, unbeknownst to anyone else. But now, I would like to share my idea with you, as in these last two weeks of Christmas it could be a great way for you, your children, or your whole family to really get ready for the coming of Jesus by preparing your hearts as a present to Him.

We started yesterday, but Timothy seems pretty excited about it!:

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A Rose in Winter: An Invitation to Grace

 

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A big part of the story is the roses in winter – Juan Diego brought the roses to the bishop as the miraculous sign that it was Mary who appeared to him. Our Lady of Guadalupe is Patronness of the Americas, her miraculous image on the tilma can still be seen today, and there is much rich symbolism in that image.

I don’t feel much of a connection with Our Lady of Guadalupe, but I do have a connection to Mary and roses in winter. As I was reading a reflection this morning on the roses, my mind was drawn to the winter I spent studying abroad. Before the semester in Austria began that January, a few of my friends and I travelled to France for a week. One of our stops was to Lourdes. As we were visiting the grotto, I noticed a single rose growing out of the side of the grotto. In January, I found it unusual, so I took a picture of it:

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Excuse my terrible photography skills, but trust me, it was a rose.

I wrote in my journal on the third and last day we were in Lourdes:
“We prayed at the Grotto and that pink rose was still there on the hill. That spoke volumes to me. A single rose in the winter, alone in the midst of stunted growth and the death of winter. “

For me, it was a rose of hope. That no matter how dead our souls are, or the world seems to be, there is hope. Mary, our star and our guide, leads us to the grace found in her son, Jesus.

I wrote this about the miraculous water at Lourdes: “There are so many spigots of water I could hardly believe it! The millions of people who come by to drink, with no limit on how much, and there’s an abundance!

To me, that’s grace. There is no limit to God’s grace, love, and mercy that he pours out on us each day. “Living in God’s grace, there will be trials, but God’s grace is more than enough. Jesus came for the sick and needy, not for the strong and hearty. I came here to Lourdes for the deeper conversion of my heart, and I placed Mary in charge. Mary, the Grotto, and the spring only point me toward the Mass and the Sacraments. Drink at the fountain and discover where the richness of grace truly lies. It’s a simple call to conversion, a purifying call, a cleansing time here in winter.”

So, maybe I have a connection to Our Lady of Guadalupe after all, as her message to Juan Diego was announcing the love and mercy of God, hearing our weeping and sufferings and loving us as a merciful mother. And in her message at Lourdes that winter, I heard the same thing. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us to receive the grace and mercy of God, especially in this Year of Mercy!

 

Do You Believe In Grace- Marriage Edition

I haven’t been intensely following the synod on the families, because I think I’d rather wait to hear the conclusions at the end instead of getting all worked up along the way. I pray for our spiritual leaders, and trust the Holy Spirit to guide them just like He’s done the last two thousand years or so. I did, though, read the text of one of Archbishop Chaput’s interventions today: http://aleteia.org/2015/10/10/archbishop-chaput-to-synod-fathers-we-need-to-call-people-to-perseverance-in-grace-not-confirm-them-in-their-errors/

The part that really struck me was when he wrote that “The work of this Synod needs to show much more confidence in…the transformative power of grace…..we need to call people to perseverance in grace and to trust in the greatness God intended for them…Marriage embodies Christian hope.”

I have wanted to write a blog on my thoughts on grace for some time now, but I couldn’t figure out how to formulate it, and then the good Archbishop summed it up for me. Let me explain how I got here.imgresOver the summer, I began to work for CatholicMarriagePrep.com, an online, self-paced, instructor-led marriage prep program. There are essentially 7 topics that couples think about, answer worksheets on, and then an online instructor such as myself answers and expounds upon them. It is amazing and I highly recommend this preparation to engaged couples getting married in the Catholic Church! It is adaptable to older couples, convalidations, and everyone in between.

What has really struck me as an instructor is the third worksheet on the Sacraments. Being able to express their form and the grace attached – even though I basically have a theology degree – was somewhat challenging! And then, we had to give a short testimony on the transforming grace of our marriage, and that’s what opened my eyes to really ask myself if I believe in grace. Because if I did, wouldn’t I be open to it, asking for it, and seeing it work in my life? I had to really think.

Without getting too technical about the types of grace, let’s focus on the big picture: grace is a gift. A free, undeserved help that God gives to His children (CCC 1997). It allows us to participate in the life of God, to attain the divine for which our soul yearns. The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion. (CCC 1989).

Who doesn’t want free gifts? If someone offers me free food, free baby clothes, etc, I never say no. Then why is it so easy to ignore the free gift of grace? I know that sin has something to do with that, but I want to focus here on the grace. Because, like Chaput said, marriage embodies hope. Hope of what? Hope that the grace of the sacrament can transform us into the true image of God, who is Love. Marriage has the ability to take us beyond our humanity and into the realm of divine. Love is hard work, made easier with grace, but still requires sacrifice. And I think because the goal of marriage is so transcendental, and so divine, that it is easily attacked, misunderstood, and given up on.

So here’s the challenge to couples married in the Church, who have the sacramental grace of marriage: Live it. Ask for the grace to love your spouse better, to lay down your life more willingly, to love your children more purely. But above all, to be transformed by that grace into Divine Love itself. With grace, our marriages will be a witness the world cannot ignore. With grace, we won’t give up on the hope of the greatness God intended for us.

Want to support the mission and ministry of CatholicMarriagePrep.com? Or, do you love your husband/wife? You can buy shirts here: https://www.agapecatholicministries.com/shop/

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Gun Control: Pro-Life or Anti-Suffering?

I know the shooting at Roseburg happened weeks ago, and is “old news” in the media world, but those wounds never go away. As such, it has taken me weeks to work through these thoughts and type them out. So, here goes:

I was disheartened by the news of the shooting in Roseburg. So much more tragedy, senseless shootings, and death.

I was also surprised about how many people voiced up about needing more gun control laws, people who are also for abortion and for assisted suicide. I was confused on how one could be upset about the loss of life in a mass shooting at a college (which I am, too), but actively support the loss of life in the womb, in sickness, and in the elderly.

I realized it comes from a false sense of compassion. We as a society hate suffering. I think for some it is the ultimate goal in life: to not suffer. A child in the womb who is going to have a disability or disease? Doctors advise mothers to end the life before it really begins. Or, who was unintentionally conceived and has the potential to be “unloved?” It’s a mother’s choice, apparently. A terminally ill patient? Assisted suicide, because suffering is the worst thing that can befall a person. An elderly person who can hardly get around? We find them to be a burden on society, not considering what they’ve given in their lifetime or the wisdom they’ve amassed.

But then there is a shooting on a college campus. Teenagers, barely adults. In the prime of their life, having done nothing to deserve death, studying to get an education to be tax-payers and maybe parents someday. That’s when people get vocal about morality. Somehow, these lives are more valuable? I guess to some, shootings are the real tragedy because ending the lives of the suffering doesn’t matter?

Whoopi Goldberg on “The View” doesn’t get it. “Should abortion be equated with gun violence?” she asks. Well, the bottom line is yes, because a life is intentionally being ended.

To me, and to the Church, they are all the same. They are all tragedies, because life has been taken. It is not our place to play God and to decide who lives or dies based on how much they are suffering or how much we think they will suffer. Perhaps some of these mass murderers have thought they are ending other people’s suffering? As confusing as it is, deciding the value of life based on suffering is a slippery slope.

This is not a political blog. To be honest, I’m not sure what the answer is to the violence besieging our country. I do suspect that it is a combination of laws, mental health, and moral reform. I don’t think one reform independent of the others will be enough. The fact that the Roseburg shooter asked victim’s religion is also disturbing, considering that the current cultural climate is so hostile to faith.

As Pope Francis has so deftly demonstrated, respect for life does not fit neatly into left or right, liberal or conservative. Undocumented workers’ lives are worth respect. Unborn life is worth respect. Muslim refugees’ lives are worth respect. The handicapped, the elderly, the patient with cancer or a brain tumor – their lives are worth respect. Criminals in prison – even on death row- their lives are worth respect. The Church has always faithfully taught that every life is precious.

So what are our families to do? How can our families promote respect for all life? First of all, this quote:

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Also, I think we must teach our kids to respect all life by our witness. By donating food to soup kitchens, praying for the imprisoned, visiting a nursing home. To do anything and everything to cultivate the conviction that life is worth respect, at any stage and for everyone.

As Christians, we also need to struggle to understand the value of suffering, so we can be convicted of its purpose. To the goal of life is not to avoid suffering, it’s to accept suffering as our path to heaven. It’s not an easy topic, and may take a lifetime to grasp. But here is could good place to start: Peter Kreeft on God’s Answer to Suffering: http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/suffering.htm

The Theology of Fairy Tales

Among well-meaning mothers, princesses can be a hot topic. Some mothers love ’em, some mothers hate ’em, so I will try to tread lightly. My two year old, Lily, grew up with trucks for toys, yet she was always drawn to beautiful things. She loves the color pink, and insists on wearing twirly dresses. I didn’t own any dresses for her except one or two that she wore over and over, so I had to go buy her some more.

Last night, I cleaned the upholstery on our dining room chairs. This morning, it was the first thing she noticed. “Mommy! You cleaned the chairs! They’re so beautiful!” Timothy would describe things he liked as amazing. Lily describes things she likes as beautiful. This is because women were made to reflect the beauty of God.

As so, I think you can find good theology in many fairy tales and princess movies. The same goes for boys loving superheroes. There is a battle between good and evil and each one of us has a part to play. Girls love to identify with the beautiful princess. Not because she is helpless and needs rescued, but because girls desire to be pursued, fought for, and triumph over evil.

As parents, we have a lot of say in how these Disney princesses are perceived, and the lessons our girls learn from it. Lily only wants to read books about princesses, so we have found some at the library and the thrift store that emphasize that princesses share and take turns. Also, there are a lot of princess saints, so you can read about them as well!

The main lesson to get across through fairy tales is that God made your daughter to be a reflection of His beauty. She is in a war between good and evil, and God wants to capture her heart. God wants to win her for the Kingdom of Heaven, so He will search after her and fight for her to do so. What girl doesn’t love that kind of story!

Below is an abbreviated version of a talk I used to give on the 8th grade girls retreat when I was a youth minister. That retreat was one of my favorite parts of the year and this talk was one of my favorites, too. So if your daughters go the princess route, perhaps it can help navigate some good theology!

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Take Cinderella. A lowly servant girl who has natural beauty. It’s just that other people have more power over her. They convince her she’s not good enough to go to the ball. But she still has hopes and dreams. And then, the ball.

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Why do we like this scene so much? Because it resonates with the way we were created: an ordinary girl becomes a princess. The prince notices her immediately and pursues her. Even when she runs away out of fear, the prince wont give up looking for her. Just like God never stops pursuing us.

In the scene where they are jumping on the bed, the Duke tells the King its just a fairy tale, it cant come true. But we like fairy tales for that reason: we hope that they can indeed come true.

All fairy tales involve what? A struggle between good and evil where good wins through love. Our fairy tale is the greatest love story ever. And its real!! Just look in the bible. For thousands of years God has been trying to capture our hearts. He can get pretty creative too – plagues, manna in the desert, talking through a burning bush.

Jesus is a person alive in your heart and desires your happiness. He is the prince who won’t give up chasing after your heart. He created you for GREATNESS!

Let’s go to creation to look and see our story of greatness: God made it and it was good – until man and woman. Then creation was very good. Humans are the high point! Genesis Ch. 2: “It is not good for man to be alone.” So God made woman. And then he had nothing better to make, so He was finished 🙂  As male and female together, they imaged the love of the Trinity.

So, if God wants to love us and speak to our hearts, why don’t we feel that way?
It’s the same reason Cinderella didn’t feel she was worthy to go to the ball. We have been convinced that there is something better than God’s love for us: Boys, sports, your favorite TV show. Being popular. And that’s messed up. It’s not the way its supposed to be, and that’s why you don’t feel loved by God all the time.
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Cinderella’s evil stepmother – her eyes go green with jealously that Cinderella is more beautiful than her daughters. The Cat’s name is Lucifer for heaven’s sake!
images-1Satan is jealous of our beauty and that God made us for greatness! Because Adam and Eve completed creation, and satan wants to be the best. And so if he can get us to be jealous of each other, if he can get us to doubt God, if he can get us to sin, he’s won.

Genesis 3:4- Satan says “can you not eat from any trees? If do you, you will be like God and know”…Deception! Lies! God make us in his image and likeness. We are already like God. But the doubt was planted – maybe God is holding out on us. Maybe there is something better. And so it began: our doubting that God wants the best for us. And so we turn away.

But we deserve to be rescued from evil!  What if Cinderella just stayed up in the attic? What if you convinced yourself that it’s easier to stay in your sin than be freed from it? You wouldn’t experience the adventure that you were created for.

But we have our proof of royalty in our Baptism and Confirmation. Like the proof of Cinderella’s glass slipper. We are reminded that we can claim those gifts and use those graces to fight evil.

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So how do we overcome evil? What is our example of greatness? The Cross. But we don’t want to suffer or give ourselves to the Cross. So we give our hearts to boy bands and to jealously, and suffer in a more meaningless way. And in doing so, we miss out on being a part of the greatest love story, the greatest fairy tale ever told. Only this one is real, and with an act of true love, the dead come back to life!

This MAN, this PRINCE, has come in disguise and gave up his life for you to restore you to the princess you are. In Him lies your happiness, the key to your greatness.

1 John 4:9 “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.”Jesus-on-Cross

Sex Ed Cont’d: Chastity and Frozen

(somewhat a continuation of my previous post that Sex Ed Starts at Birth. They are born, so now what?)

Another headline I saw recently was, “Why Shame-Based Abstinence Education doesn’t work.” And I would have to agree. But I would have to say that shoving contraception in their face doesn’t work either. There is a third way, a way that is very well demonstrated in the movie “Frozen.”

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Queen Elsa was born with this power to make things freeze. A power that “can be beautiful but dangerous.” When she was young she would make beautiful snowflakes and snowmen and have all sorts of fun with it. Then, after accidentally hurting her sister at a young age, her well-intentioned father teaches Else to “conceal, don’t feel” and to wear gloves. Well, Elsa shuts everyone else out of her life because she is afraid of her power. Eventually, she brings the whole town into a deep winter freeze. She runs up a mountain to an isolated castle of ice to unleash her power. She doesn’t think she can ever change her frozen nature until an act of true love from her sister, who sacrifices her life for her. Then she realizes it’s love that can thaw the freeze and tame her power. Not a true love’s kiss kind of love, but an act of self-sacrifice and giving.

I see Elsa’s powers as our human sexuality. Our sexual urges can be strong, like Elsa’s powers, but if we try to bottle them up, they can explode. We are made to feel, in a poor abstinence program, that our sexuality is dangerous and we should be ashamed of it and hide it. Many well-intentioned parents don’t want to talk about sex until their kids are full grown (conceal, don’t feel). You get STD’s and unwanted pregnancies from sex, so sex is bad.

Actually, our sexuality is good! It is meant to be beautiful and life-giving, but without proper context it can be very dangerous. We can definitely hurt people with this power, and so I think we are, as a country, stuck in a deep winter freeze. We are all in our isolated castles, doing what we want with our powers. We are our own king or queen. But we were not made for loneliness. Our sexuality was made to be a gift of true love. With everything from campus rape culture, child predators, pornography, cohabitation, and divorce so common and painful, it’s obvious we are lacking in authentic love.

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So there is a third way, a way of Chastity, a way of love. What was able to thaw the deep freeze in the movie “Frozen”? An act of sacrifice – willing to put your own life in front of your beloved. So how do you channel such a strong emotion as our sexuality into something beautiful, creative, and authentic? Love.

The Catechism definition of Chastity is “the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being.” For a long time I had a hard time understanding that verbiage, but the movie helps illustrate the point. Our sexual desires are meant to be expressed in our body in the proper context. We are made to love. So when we take our powers of sexuality and move from fear and selfishness to courage and generosity, we become wholly who we are meant to be. Our bodies are visible signs of the invisible love of God within us.

So chastity is for everyone, on every path of life, because we are all human, we have bodies, and we are all meant for love. We easily think of priests and nuns called to chastity, but married people need to be authentic in their gift of self, too. Teens should see sex as something to look forward to, and prepare themselves for accordingly. How? By taking time to discover themselves- talents, fears, hopes, desires. You can’t give yourself in a sexual act of love if you don’t even know who you are. You can use your desire to love to serve your friends and community while preparing yourselves for your vocation someday. Mission trips and service projects are great acts of self-sacrifice.

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Then, in marriage, sex becomes a language of love, more powerful than words could ever say. This act of love speaks of permanence, faithfulness, totality, and openness to life. Did you know your marriage vows aren’t complete until you ratify it with your actions? It’s meant to be a beautiful reflection of the love of God in the same ways as your vows.

So hopefully the takeaway from this is: 1. Watch the movie “Frozen.” 2. Pray, research, reflect on the virtue of chastity, whether it be for your kids sake, your marriage, or your current state in life. God has something waiting for you to discover.

Sex Ed Starts At Birth

(writer’s note: this short blog post is not meant to be a comprehensive plan for sex ed. These are just some thoughts about raising kids that hopefully will inspire you to further reflection and education on the subject.)

I recently came across this article on the PBS website called The Case for Starting Sex Education in Kindergarten.

It explains the comprehensive sex ed program taught in schools in the Netherlands. I was pretty horrified by the content of the country-mandated program, but what they do have right is the idea that sexuality is part of who you are and shouldn’t be avoided. In kindergarten they aren’t using the word “sex” and instead are talking more about feelings and identity in the early years, but it got me thinking that really we should be starting sex ed at birth.

It's a girl!

It’s a girl!

Because, with the exception of a very small percentage of people, you are born with male or female parts, and that’s a good place to begin. You are born male or female, and your sexuality is a part of who you are. God made your body, so it’s good. In fact, our male or female bodies are meant to be a visible image of certain aspects of the person of God, equal but complimentary. You were loved into being by God, you are born to be loved by your parents, and you were made to love others. Your whole life is meant to be about true, self-giving love. And sexuality is tied to love.

You first learn to love in a self-giving way in your family. Giving hugs and kisses to your parents, sharing toys with siblings, and obeying and growing in responsibility. My husband and I were talking yesterday about how it’s important that kids see their parents be affectionate with each other, because this is where they learn. The family is the first school- for many things, including “sex ed.”

There is a lot of gender confusion in our society, so as babies grow, parents should help them see how their masculinity or femininity helps them in relation to others and to God. Not all girls need to wear princess dresses to be fully feminine (I preferred shorts) and not all boys need to like weapons (though if they do that’s okay!) to be fully masculine. But you are either male or female, so even though your hobbies and interests and feelings change over time, your physical parts wont and therefore neither will the core of your identity.

Lastly, parents should tell their girls they are beautiful and guys that they are handsome and strong. Give them a solid foundation for their self-image. Because as you approach adolescence, the sex conversation will have to change and their self-esteem will be under attack. But at least you’ve given them a good foundation. Which will lead me to my next blog post, so stay tuned!

“The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible, the spiritual and divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the invisible mystery hidden in God from time immemorial, and thus to be a sign of it” (St. John Paul II, Feb 20, 1980).

Home Remodeling and Whitewashed Tombs

(Warning: Graphic Content. Do not read while you are eating.)

A little over a year ago we bought a new home! (see: St. Joseph answers prayers). We knew it was going to be a bit of a fixer upper, but we had no idea how bad it was going to be until the smells starting getting worse and we started to tear down walls.

One of the first things we did was gut the basement bedroom where the kids were to sleep. The walls weren’t even made out of drywall but some smelly cardboard material and the insides were filled with spiderwebs galore – like out of a Halloween movie. Then we found water pooling in our laundry room because a hose wasn’t connecting to the drain, but just squirting water into the wall where we found black mold.

Recently we remodeled our upstairs main/master bath. It was the second most disgusting bath Nathan has ever remodeled, due to the leaky pipes behind the shower wall. See more black mold (and rotting subfloor) here:

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Then we started to gut the basement. This is where the majority of the smells come from. Dead mice. Actually, at least 3 dead mice, 2 rotting mice nests, and thousands of tiny turds line all the studs and ceiling of our basement living room. I’m sure they’ve been here for years. It is so disgusting I want to vomit just writing about it, but here are a few pics in case you are morbidly curious.

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this nest fell from the ceiling and smelled the worst because it actually had a dead mouse in it, discernible only by the long, black tail…

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mmm, yummy. All the studs looked like this.

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this nest is still in the ceiling and has treasures waiting to behold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we looked at the house in person, the pictures online made it seem not too bad. Before we bought the house, we knew from seeing it in person that it needed a little bit of work, but as we lived here the signs became more noticeable that something was wrong. It had made me think of what Jesus has to say about whitewashed tombstones:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.” Matthew 23:27-28

The previous owners of the house knew about the smell because they kept the basement doors closed and had no furniture in there. Instead of gutting it, they slapped some paint on the walls and called it “remodeled.” But there was no life in that room; nothing could survive in there with dead mice rotting in the walls.

So many times it seems easier to try and cover up our sins and wounds instead of trying to get to the root of the problem and deal with them. What we really need to do is tear down the drywall around our hearts and get to the smell, to the rotting wounds of sin and go to Confession! Perhaps an apology or forgiveness are also in order to bring healing.

And now, by tearing it out and rebuilding, we’ve built something way more beautiful than what was there before. That’s what grace does to our souls.

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bathroom before*

bathroom after*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So whatever you do, don’t let the smell of your sins turn you into a whitewashed tomb full of dead bones and filth. Let our house be a lesson for your interior house life.

“So many people come up to me and say, ‘But I’m a good person.’ Sin doesn’t make us bad. The wages of sin is death. Sin makes us dead. Only God can bring the dead to life.” -Louie Giglio, pastor, quoted from our worship night at Red Rocks.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

*you can see all of the bathroom before and after photos at: www.facebook.com/SuperiorHomeRemodel

Put your baby down and worship!

A few days ago I went to a concert at Red Rocks with my mom. It was headlined by Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Matt Maher and my mom was going to be in town and I could tell she really wanted to go. So I told her I would go with her.

But as it drew closer, I wasn’t getting any more excited. Although I often put Christian music on in the car, I felt out of the music loop that I used to be in with my mom. Back in high school and college, my mom and I were Christian concert-goers extraordinaire.

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You see, I grew up in Charismatic prayer groups. I learned how to worship through praise music. I taught people to open up their hands as a sign of openness and to reach out to God. But I’ve been holding a baby in my arms for the last 4 years, or doing dishes, or folding laundry, and I feel like that’s all my hands know how to do anymore.

So I kept my hands in my pockets as the music started and people began to worship and sing. As I kept my hands in my pockets, the wind picked up and I started to chill.  And I realized that wind is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit. And I really felt that the wind was the work of the Holy Spirit moving in the thousands gathered, especially me.

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At one point they asked us to kneel. Catholics know how to do that well, we understand that kneeling and genuflecting and bowing our heads are outward symbols of respect and submission to God. But opening our hands is a little more uncomfortable.

I realized that sometimes I need to put the baby down and worship. My arms have been so full of day-to-day life that I miss out on stepping back and seeing the bigger picture. Because I have forgotten to set aside time to worship. Not just say a quick prayer here or there, but really enter into worship.

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Recently my husband and I started alternating weeks for a holy hour. The time has been spent doing religious reading, praying a rosary, and offering up some intentions. But I have been lacking in worship; in starting out with acknowledging the greatness of God, and opening my hands and heart to God, and saying, “Okay, Holy Spirit. Move in me. Draw me closer to you.”

Because when we worship, we put God first. We praise him for who he is. There are lots of ways to worship. I do enjoy great modern praise and worship songs. You can simply speak all the names of Jesus. You can pray many of the Psalms that are praise. And of course the Liturgy is an act of public worship. But when we put God in his rightful place, all else comes into order. Perspective on his greatness and our need for him permeate into the other areas of our life where we make choices.

Even in today’s second reading (for the 20th Sunday of ordinary time) from Ephesians, St. Paul writes:  “… addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.”

So it’s time to put the baby down and get my hands out of my pockets and open them towards God. Maybe your children are all grown or you don’t have children yet, so what is your figurative baby that’s holding you back from opening up to God?

Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to help us worship God and put our life back in right order.

CCC 2086: When we say ‘God’ we confess a constant, unchangeable being, always the same, faithful and just, without any evil.  He is almighty, merciful, and infinitely beneficent. Who could not place all hope in him? Who could not love him when contemplating the treasures of goodness and love he has poured out on us?