June 7th

Have you ever had something so significant happen in your life that the date is forever engraved into your mind? That date is June 7th for me.

It’s the day that changed my life forever with one phone call and two words. Those two words, “I am”, shattered my heart to pieces, but more importantly set me on a path of making decisions that would alter my life’s direction forever. Decisions to leave a ministry that I loved, decisions to painfully offer my will and desires to the Lord in place of following and wanting His, decisions to invest in myself financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and decisions to follow a dream that is just crazy enough that following it only makes sense once those blind steps of faith have already been made.

June 7th, 2020 wrecked my world.
And I couldn’t be more grateful.

It loosened and revealed so many of the negative ties, attachments, and prideful ways I’d chained myself to over the years. It introduced me to what following the Lord actually means and looks like. It taught me how to pray through the immense suffering and torrential tears blocking any vision of life up ahead.

But what’s an added bonus to seeing the goodness unfold in my life since that awful day? Having God so beautifully redeem that exact date that was so painfully seared into my mind…

A little more back story- The only ounce of joy I had felt in a week following June 7th, 2020 was when I providentially came across Trinity House Café/Community on Instagram the following Saturday. It’s what re-sparked the Catholic café dream. (I’ll share more about this story in another post).

That brings us to June 7th, 2021- I was down in Maryland/Virginia visiting friends and family as I got ready to attend the GIVEN Institute Forum. Without planning it, of all the days I was there, I found myself in VA visiting Trinity House Café for the second time ever on June 7th. I took these photos and captioned them with these words- already feeling the redemption of that date one year later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  1. I was blown away by this gift as the pains of that day a year earlier were still reverberating within me.

  2.  

Today, June 7th, 2022, I sit in further awe of God’s goodness, vision, and generosity. I find myself in Virginia again, having quit my job, moved down here for the summer, investing in my dream, and ready to take on my first shift as a barista at Trinity House Café tomorrow and incredibly gung-ho about learning all that goes into running a Catholic café! Once again- this was completely unplanned because if you knew my schedule (leave job on 3rd, do a Tough Mudder on 4th, drive to VA on 6th, drive back up to MA on 16th and back to VA on 19th) it’s quite clear this was not the most convenient of times to get down here! Despite all that, my jaw dropped when I realized the coincidence (God-incidence) with this date once again.

The worst day of my life is being redeemed two times over with an incredible dream I never would have dared fathom would actually come true. And to be honest, even with all the unknowns still surrounding this dream, I’ve never felt more at peace than I do now. (Ok, I definitely have nerves about tomorrow and all of it because I’m HUMAN but overwhelmingly it’s peace and excitement 🤪).

All of this is to say, I don’t know what you’re going through or have gone through but if you have a June 7th in your life (whether that’s an actual date or a person, place, memory, phrase, song, etc.)- ask God to redeem it. He 100% will and He’ll blow your mind with how He does it!

View from my last trip to Virginia

I Did a Thing…

I did a thing…

I quit my job and I’m moving.

That sounds pretty dramatic and well, it is and it isn’t.

I wondered if the time would ever truly come for me to share this with the world. Now the day is here, so grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and settle in!

No, quitting my job and moving is not that dramatic because I’m not actually leaving until the end of this month. This wasn’t some “peace out, watch me jaunt away” kind of scenario. I thought and prayed long and hard about when I would leave my job and God led me to this timing. I tried to leave at other times, hence the “Be Still” verses being a favorite of His for me haha. When I finally acquiesced to His timing it seemed like the end of this academic year was where His “ready, set, GO” was culminating. My original plan was to give my notice after Easter so I could tell the students in person but to stay until the end of June. In an ironic twist, God’s call to “be still” in this situation was apparently no more and He actually moved up my departure date even sooner. I sure love His irony 😊 It’s His irony that brings me to the moving part…

Again, not as dramatic as it sounds because while I will be moving 8 hours away, it’s only for the summer and then I’ll be back up here. (That is unless God has something else in store but that’s NOT my plan. And yet, I have to be ready for anything because I’ve seen where clinging to “my” plan gets me 😉).

So now that I’ve knocked down the drama level a bit, there actually is quite a bit of drama behind all of this too.

I’m not just leaving my job and moving for the sake of something new. Far from it. Every bit of this is God-ordained and dates back nearly 2 years (really more but we’ll start there).

 

  1. To cut to the chase, I am pursing the call and personal desire to open a Catholic café in MA!

 

What’s a Catholic café? I’m glad you asked 😉 My tagline is this: A place of beauty that provides community, nourishment, and simple encounters with God.

Building community, especially faith communities, has always been a passion of mine. I’ve also always loved the café vibe and the space it can provide for friendship, reflection, innovation, and joy. That mixed with the absolute beauty of the Catholic faith and its ability to introduce you to God in such unique ways feels like the perfect fit. And come to find out, God agrees!

When I tell you that I never would have actually gone for this dream if it were just mine, I’m not kidding. It would’ve remained a pipe dream that I brought up in starry eyed conversations until the day I died (and then it would’ve disappeared completely!). It wasn’t until God elevated it to a dream He had for me that things shifted and I began intentionally and deeply pursing this.

That all began nearly 2 years ago with a random thought about this old dream and then providentially coming across Trinity House Café on Instagram. And that’s where we come to the moving part…

I’ll explain more of the Trinity House backstory in another post but it’s a Catholic café in Virginia where I’ll be working this summer! I’ve been in contact with the owners, Soren and Ever Johnson, since Summer 2020 and they beyond graciously offered me a job with them as a barista and the chance to learn all I possibly can about running a café. I’d also like to point out that this was offered to me after I had already decided to leave my current job and live off savings for a bit. God is so good and when we surrender to Him, He always provides in ways above and beyond what we could have ever imagined.

So, that’s my big dramatic news- 2 years in the making. Now you know the dream I’ve been elusively mentioning 😊 I cannot wait to share more about the 2-year process in getting here and how it is all going to continue to unfold!

I invite you to follow along through this blog and IG page and to pleaseeee pray for me as I transition out of one dream and take a big step into the next one- into my own Jordan River, trusting God will fight for me and part the sea after my obediently being still these last 2 years.

Exodus 14:14

*The picture is from my last trip to Virginia at a winery my aunt and uncle brought me too. Cannot wait for more of that this summer too 😉

 

God Will Still Love Me

This Lent, there’s been a phrase that has been said to me multiple times, mainly in reference to a rationalization of breaking one’s fast: “God will still love me”. It comes with the job I suppose but it’s an awkward thing to encounter especially when someone is clearly looking for you to validate their decision or desire to break their fast.

While pondering this, another similar phrase came to mind: “I’m aiming for Purgatory”. Another one that just rubs me the wrong way.

I don’t write this post in judgement, as I too have said or thought these sentiments many times myself. But this Lent, that first thought in particular has caused me much discomfort in trying to discern the best way to respond to it. Just over the last few days while pondering these sentiments and doing my own spiritual readings I found God speaking Truth to my heart.

Both of these phrases fall short. Remarkably short.

So let’s unpack them a bit…

In relation to the first remark- will God still love you even if you break your fast early or because it’s inconvenient with your social plans? Plain and simple, yes. Absolutely. 100%.

Yet, that was never the question, was it?

Because if you believe in and profess Christ as your Savior in the first place, then He proved that unending love once and for all when He willingly agonized in the Garden of Olives, being crushed like an olive itself by the weight of every variety of sin we’ve ever committed so much so that His own blood seeped out of His Sacred pores just as oil does from that very olive. Or when He willingly gave Himself up to His dearest of friend turned enemy, Judas and his band of soldiers. When He willingly refused to defend Himself to Pilate who questioned truth to Truth Himself. When He willingly knelt down to receive a scourging that ripped the skin right off His back. When He willingly stood on His decimated feet, wrapped in a purple cloak, crown of barbarous thorns piercing His skull, listening to those exact ones He loved, He would always love, mock, ridicule, and ravenously shout any excuse they could think of to call for His death. A death that again, He freely and willingly accepted out of love for mankind, love for the kind of man who says “God will still love me” when they go back on the word they gave to the Word Himself at the start of Lent.

Yes, God will still love. But that was never the question. The question is and has always been- How much do you love God?

And this question ties us right back into the second sentiment- “I’m aiming for Purgatory”. Yes, perhaps this comes from some seemingly reverent and humble place, but if we unpack it further we find two things. 1. A lacking in our determination to do everything we possibly can to serve God with every single ounce of our love while on this Earth. 2. A lacking in our trust that when we do fall short, continually and expectedly, that our God, who suffered a torturous death unlike anyone who was or is to come for us, has the power to redeem those failings just as He did with Peter and make us into one of the greatest Saints the world and heaven itself has ever seen.

There is a prayer that now hangs on my wall as a constant reminder of who I am called to be and who God is: Bold prayers honor God. God honors bold prayers.

In a world where it’s so easy to make excuses and rationalize our decisions I urge you my dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

 

BE BOLD AND LOVE GOD WITH EVERYTHING YOU HAVE AND EVERYTHING YOU ARE.

 

Anything short of that will not cause God to love you less but it will in fact show God how much you love Him.

On this holiest of Saturdays, as we wait -are still- let us unite our hearts with the Apostles and disciples who asked the same question in the midst of their own agonizing tears and raw hearts two thousand years ago- how much do I love God?

 

Be Still: Right Where He Wants Me

Going into this retreat I was sure it was where God wanted me, but I also had no idea what to expect- nor did I want to set any expectations. I wanted this to be plain and simple time with the Lord. In fact, I was quite adamant about this with myself. Not having expectations set a precedence for what I brought with me, what I left behind, and the attitude I had surrounding the whole week. That being said, I really had no idea how this week would go, and it can be a little unnerving to step into the unknown, even if you are holding the hand of someone you deeply trust. If He wanted to reveal a particular direction or focus, great! If He didn’t, great! I was ready and open to whatever He wanted. And let me tell you- He wasted no time making it clear.

That first night, after joining the Benedictine’s for Evening Prayer, I went back to my little room named after St. Theresa of Avila. With its twin size bed, basic dresser, plush chair, small but endearing desk, and even a kneeler, I found myself in there often, feeling cozy, secluded, and peaceful. This first night I pulled out my Rejoice! Advent Meditations book as I hadn’t done the meditation for the day yet. I found it very fitting that that day’s theme was “Remember” and was asking us to review the last 20 days of Advent and all we had reflected on during them. So, my first night was filled with memories and seeing how past insights settled on the current state of my heart. Little did I know what tomorrow would bring…

The next day, my first full day, I didn’t rush myself to wake up but I did make sure I got to the 9:30am Mass. After that and making myself some breakfast, I grabbed my Bible, the Rejoice! book, a pencil and got comfy on the living room couch. There were a couple others utilizing the retreat house at this time and I shared the living room with two of them as I opened my Bible to try and catch up on my Bible in a Year readings (side note- proud to say this retreat allowed me to catch up on the two weeks of readings I was behind, which meant I was able to finish it in exactly 365 days alongside my parents and Fr. Mike Schmitz of course! 😉). Throughout that time, one of the guests packed up to leave and the others disappeared into their own time with God. Thus, I found myself alone in the quiet of the living room.

It was in this solitude that I then turned to the Rejoice! book for that day’s reflection. Now, let me preface by saying- I. Cannot. Make. This. Stuff. Up.

I kid you not- I opened to Saturday’s reflection and what was the Bible verse for the day? Psalm 46:10- “Be still, and know that I am God.”…

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD!

So many thoughts and emotions raced through my mind- astonishment, joy, confusion, excitement, laughter, disbelief, and pure love. I quickly turned to the reflection and began reading to try and understand how in the world the same verse was being used and HOW IN THE WORLD IT WAS FOR THAT DAY OF ALL DAYS.

After yesterday’s reflection asking us to review the last 20 days, today’s was meant to remind us of where we started (Psalm 46:10) and where we were now in relation to that starting point. Wow.

Here is a quote from my reflection on that’s day’s readings:
“Peace. I feel peace in reading this verse and Psalm again. I feel seen and loved…You knew. You knew today would be my first full day on this retreat that You called me to with this very verse. Thank You. Do not let me miss anything You are trying to share.”

And here’s a quote from a separate journal entry from that day:
“Once again, God knew I would be here, reading that verse and reflection on the very first day. The smile it brings to my face and the peace it brings to my heart. Praise be to God! I love You, Thank You  ❤️”

If that wasn’t yet again confirmation that I was exactly where I was supposed to be then I should’ve just walked out right then and there because nothing else could’ve been clearer.

But something else amazing happened too- the theme for that reflection was “Ordinary”. Beyond the obvious gift of that verse, that theme and associated reflection actually gave me great insight into a bigger dilemma I had been facing for quite a while.

Stay tuned for how I found out what it means to be still in the ordinary…

P.S. I was hoping to get this blog post done during Saturday’s snowstorm but I couldn’t get myself to sit still and write all weekend. It took the discomfort of forcing myself not to watch another episode of that meaningless show I’ve been binging to finally make me be still and write. And what a joy it was as I was actually writing. It’s a never ending process, this getting good at being still thing. Just remember that.

 

AccountabiliTEA

I could take this post in two directions- focus on wounds or focus on how they’re being healed. When I first started writing this blog a few weeks ago, I began by sharing a lot about my personal wounds in the area of friendship, especially female friendships. I was expressing everything how I wanted but paused when it came to writing about the whole inspiration behind this blog post in the first place. Then life happened and this post sat in my drafts folder. I was also served some humble pie in another area of my life in regards to friendship and I realized I no longer wanted this post to be about the past but about the present. Hmmm novel thought for a blog titled Present Catholic 😝 So as you read through this, I challenge you to yes, acknowledge any of your own wounds that may surface but then to follow up quickly with a prayer to the Holy Spirit asking Him to reveal the ways He’s already healed those wounds and the opportunities He’s putting in your path to continue healing them now.

One of the greatest joys in life is to cheer another human on as they walk, run, tip toe, crawl, or dance down the path God has designed specifically for them. Recently I’ve been given a front row seat to this journey for three amazing women. A couple months ago, one friend suggested we start a group chat where we could send each other quick video updates on our lives each morning via Instagram as a fun way of connecting throughout the week more regularly. It was lovingly named Morning Tea- drinking tea (or coffee lol) and spilling tea!

Initially these were fun quick little videos that we all loved getting each morning. We’d send our joys, struggles, menial daily tasks, confusions- you name it, but all in quick snapshots. Then something interesting happened- we began to spend time responding to what the other ladies had shared. But not only responding- unpacking, offering advice, spending time meditating on each other’s thoughts/experiences, and praying for each other specifically over their current needs. These quick little morning videos became in depth conversations and a real source of joy, affirmation, hope, comfort, being seen, being heard, and accountabiliTEA 😉

We LOVE cheering each other on! Let me tell you, even the smallest things like sharing that I threw lipstick on one random day that I knew I was only going to be in my apartment just because I wanted to garnered so much affirmation! Or when one of the ladies made a cute video to Slim Shady’s I’m Back when she hadn’t shared any videos in a few days, we all loved the silliness! With these ladies I can just. be. me. And we can all be our goofy, raw, loving selves.

But beyond the affirmations, we’ve learned how to speak to our wounds. Multiple times we all individually had thoughts that the others would start to get annoyed by all the videos or by us taking a long time to respond. Then someone mentioned the fear, someone else reassured them how life giving this group was, the others agreed, and poof the fears disappeared because our old wounds that had birthed those fears had nothing to hold onto anymore. The reminder that we are not burdens on each other but gifts to one another has been especially healing for me. And it’s not just words- it’s actions. These actions, this accountabiliTEA, followed through on have given me a space to be vulnerable and not afraid of rejection, abandonment, or comparison- those personal wounds I mentioned I had originally written about.

The healing and growth I’ve witnessed has not only been in myself either, but in each of these three ladies. Their courage to dive into the hard stuff and let it stretch them so that they grow more and more into the women God has designed them to be is truly breathtaking. Even the moments when they want to hold back, there’s always another one of us encouraging them to not close in but stay open and let us and the Lord walk with them even if it’s painful. I am in awe of them and thank the Lord for gifting me with a front row seat to witness it all.

I find it extremely fitting that I’m writing this on the Feast of the Visitation- when Mary, the Mother of Jesus, after just accepting God’s request that she bear His Son, went to go serve her cousin Elizabeth who had miraculously become pregnant in her old age with her own son who would become known as John the Baptist. The four of us ladies have each been Mary aiding Elizabeth or Elizabeth receiving Mary. The beauty we’ve shown in loving one another without being asked, pressured, or burdened and the beauty of receiving that love without fear, pride, or questioning has been a true example of this divine meeting. I’m also realizing, and have witnessed, how us women lifting each other up has also allowed us to lift the men in our lives up and bring them closer to God. Just as Mary serving Elizabeth brought Jesus to John which caused him to leap with joy and Elizabeth’s prayerful response gave him an example of how to praise God, both of which inspired him to serve God so faithfully his whole life, we too bring God and an example of how to love Him to the men in our lives by serving and receiving each other well. When women love each other better, they love men better and then men AND women love God better. This might have to be a whole other blog post, but what a powerful role we’ve been given as women!

So, my parting words- love each other better. Go deeper, bring the wounds to light, and affirm the beauty of the life in front of you, whoever it is and whatever place they’re at in their life. Make room for that accountabiliTEA because it just might be the warmth you need coursing through you on an unexpectedly cold May morning.

Are you looking to deepen your bonds with certain people? Ask God how He thinks you should go about this in the present moment. Ask him how He wants to heal some of those underlying relational or self image wounds. Ask Him to love on you BIG through other people. Who knows, maybe He’ll answer with a steaming cup of Morning Tea 😊

 

Welcome to the Present Catholic Blog!

Back in the spring of 2017, as I prepared to graduate with a Master’s degree in theology, I was pulling together the finishing touches of my “Evangelizing the Culture” project requirement. We could choose almost anything we wanted to fulfill this requirement as long as it was evangelizing others in some way. I chose to write and share a daily devotional for Lent and I titled it: Present Catholic.

The purpose of the devotional was to provide a simple way for people to be more present to the movements of the Lord in their lives throughout the season of Lent. I described it in this way, “We all know the anticipation leading up to Easter Sunday and the celebration of Christ’s miraculous Resurrection. However, with that anticipation can also come a disconnect from the present moment. Through this program, you will be given a reflection and an action/challenge for each day. The goal of the reflection is to help bring your attention to that particular moment and to give you something to focus on throughout the day. In addition to the reflection, you will also be given an action/challenge connected to the reflection to help you participate in the present moment.”

It was an incredibly fruitful experience not only for myself but for the nearly 50 people who signed up! (That number alone blew my mind by the way). I had desired to continue writing after the program ended but God had other plans. Any brain power I had left after completing my Master’s program was dwindling, I was involved with a booming young adult ministry, and unbeknownst to me, a few months later, I would be hired as a Campus Minister at a small Catholic college and a year after that I would unexpectedly become the Director. Life was busy and it was clearly not the time. Almost 4 years later and God has taken me for quite a wild ride. Yet all of it has been leading me to this point, a point where the words “be still” are plastered on my heart and up ahead is a future that is only clear to the One who created me. So, with nowhere to go and a vulnerable heart in tow, I venture back into the world of writing!

Since this blog is clearly centered on faith, for those who are curious about my faith background here it is: I seek to abide by the teachings of the Catholic Church in every area of my life which I’m only ever able to do by the grace of God, and when I fail (more often than I care to admit) I embrace the Sacrament of Reconciliation to atone for my shortcomings and seek holy guidance to align myself with the will of God once again. See the Nicene Creed and Catechism of the Catholic Church for a full rundown of beliefs.

In an effort to continue simplifying my life, keeping Christ at the center, and truly having my focus in the present moment, I am aiming to let go of my perfectionist tendencies in regards to this blog. I enjoy being creative through graphic and web design, marketing, and writing, however, when the need to make everything “just right” takes away my peace, I know that I am no longer fully following God’s will. That means, I’m not giving myself any deadlines for posting weekly, monthly, etc. (you’ll have to find your Mindful Mondays elsewhere 😉). I’m also not going to be as strict about sticking to the theme of “being present”, although I’m sure it will still be very prominent as I feel passionate about that particular call to action. And while I have many ideas for making this site more interactive, I’m going to ease into the web design portion and start by simply sharing my reflections. I will offer to send you the reflections directly to your inbox, but don’t expect any fancy looking designs to accompany them. 😀 You can also follow me on Instagram @presentcatholic to see the challenges from the original program and to be notified of new posts.

This blog is a place for me to unpack my relationship with God, my prayers, and my life experiences while embracing the enjoyment I get from writing. I pray that God may use my simple musings to bless anyone who reads them. Feel free to comment or email me with any feedback or reflections of your own! Know that you are in my prayers and that I am entrusting you all to my three favorite examples of pure, holy love- the Chaste Heart of Joseph, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Most Sacred Heart of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Until my next post (which will be coming soon), I will leave you with a Bible verse and a challenge. There are many I could quote in an effort to sum up my faith but the one that has been with me the longest is this: “I believe, help my unbelief” Mark 9:24

So, what do you believe in and who will you ask to help you go deeper?

For more background on the meaning being the name, Present Catholic, check out the “About” page. And shoutout to my best friend, Dayna, who reworked my original logo to make my intent  of representing the “Chi Rho”  or “XP” symbol for Christ  through the intersection of the P and C look so much like it!