We didn’t win the Powerball…again

I had high hopes for this ticket. I planned it out in my head. The debts we would pay. The remodeling we would do. The jobs I would quit. Oh, well…there’s always Saturday.

I’ve been reading a lot more blogs lately. Well, I’m really just binge-reading one and now I have formed an entire friendship in my mind between myself and this woman. We’re very similar, I’m sure she would like me very quickly. But between that and hopes of a million dollar winner, I keep getting lost in a dream world.

With baby #2 growing more and more every day, my husband and I were faced with the challenge of adjusting what childcare looks like for our family in the upcoming months. One of the options is more time at home for me. The thoughts of a smaller paycheck is terrifying, but even the small amount of time I’ll be able to spend at home with my kids is so exciting. I dream of being a stay-at-home mom almost every day. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m overworked (3 jobs and ever so slowly finishing my Master’s degree) or because I’m lazy (not having to get dressed for work every morning sounds like a dream), but being at home is all I can think about lately. And I’m having a really hard time figuring out if that’s because of me or if God is truly putting it on my heart that this is something to consider. We have longs talks about this, but He never just comes out and says anything. Typical.

All of this to say, I want to blog more. I want to reflect more. I want to pray more. I want to share more and find my voice. I want to find my place. I want to be known and loved. I want to be more intentional with my time and my thoughts.

Lent is calling me to something new, I can feel that…I just need to figure it out and maybe putting words to (digital) paper is one of those things.


The Sunshine Transition


Has anyone ever told you that  “things will look better in the morning”?

I was never a fan of that saying…I’m not a huge fan of any of those phrases that people throw out there when they really don’t know what else to say. “It is what it is.” “Whatever will be will be.” And don’t get me started on “everything happens for a reason”…gag

But, getting back to the hand at order, I’m so bad at see things better in the morning. In fact, its usually the opposite for me. I’ll have all my great ideas and dreams in the evening and, come morning, when I’m reviewing them in the shower…where all good reflections occur… I begin to crumble. My resolve weakens and, when faced with the actual idea of putting my thoughts into actions, my confidence plummets.

I’ve termed this personal phenomenon the “sunshine transition”, as if any ray of light that touches my hopes and dreams turns them into the scared mice I try to ignore the signs of in my pantry.

It happens more than I would like it to. Apparently, I’m a very brave person after the dinner hour and can solve all of the world’s problems, but only in theory. Because when the sun comes up, the doubt comes with it.

What if I don’t have all the facts? What if the person I need on my side doesn’t agree? What if I make a fool of myself? What if I fail?

The last two are the hardest: failure, or even the appearance of failure, have kept me from many things and still haunt most of my decision making processes. I feel that today. I will probably feel that in some way 20 years from now.

But what does failure do? It proves that I’m flawed and broken and vulnerable. It shows that I’m not in charge. It reminds me that I’m in desperate need of a Savior.

So, I will try to choose to let the sunlight in and not be afraid. I will remind myself that it’s not my job to be perfect, it’s my job to try. And, most of all, I will once again surrender to my calling to let Jesus be my Savior, because I would be a really bad one.


If “control = happiness = holiness”, something doesn’t add up

My attention gets sucked into things very easily. One of my offices has a giant window that looks over a hill that can somehow make any season seem beautiful. I look out this window a lot. When I used to share the office, it wasn’t uncommon for me to need to interrupt a conversation and let my supervisor know that there was a groundhog and some birds fighting on the hill and my brain wouldn’t be available for intelligent conversation until the battle was finished.


Currently, my attention has been pulled into the world of podcasting. I’ve been binge-listening to podcasts to the point where I need to turn my cellular data off so I don’t spend millions of dollars listening to other people talk at me. My focus has mainly been on podcasts that combine some of the following topics: Catholicism, Mommy-ing, wife-ing…well I guess that’s mainly it. Catholic, mommy podcasts (let’s call them CMPs…initialisms make me feel cool), it’s INSANE how addicting I’ve found them. There’s different topics with each episode and, even if they have ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with my current situation, I can’t stop.But, that’s not what I want to focus on.

I need to talk about what the CMP’s have brought out in my brain: the need for control. It’s crazy and there’s probably a CMP episode that talks about “letting go and letting God” (gag) or “who’s really in control?”

…unrelated, I wonder if there is a job in naming podcasts cause I’d be super good at that.


Anyway, through learning about family budgets and books I should read and how to properly self-care, I’ve realized that I equate my sense of control not only  with happiness (a pretty common trait) but also with holiness. Being in charge of my schedule means I’m totally on the road to sainthood, eating vegetables CONSISTENTLY has to be on par with doing works of mercy  and, all those faceless people who chime “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” understand that an ordered household is the only road to heaven, right?

Clearly, the answer is no, but my brain doesn’t always live “seeing things clearly” land.

Case in point, I’ve been trying to focus on my weight/eating differently to see if I could actually take care of my body for health rather than beauty (easier said than done…look for endless ways that I will both congratulate myself and fail miserably at this endeavor). And then tonight, I ate almost an entire bag of Cheetos simply because they were sitting in my office. What followed? Guilt. Resentment. Fear of being punished.


Hold up now. Who’s going to punish me for eating delicious cheese food-type things? God. Not eating an entire bag of Cheetos in one sitting is probably the commandment Moses would have seen if he turned the tablet over.

Ridiculous? Absolutely. Felt in my heart regardless of the ridiculousness? You betcha. I lost control and screwed up and punishment is sure to follow. I’m losing my closeness to God with every bite, even if only in my mind.

It happens in non-cheese related ways as well. If I fall behind on laundry or forget to answer a voicemail, I feel “off the straight and narrow”. These things that have nothing to do with my relationship to God are really screwing up my faith.

And here’s the thing I need to remind myself, say it with me now:  I’m actually not in control at all. The most freeing and exciting and terrifying realization about my life is I’m not in control. I need to trust in my God, who loves me in spite of as well as because of all the calories in my fitness tracker. And my dirty house. And my cluttered office. And on and on and on. He’s got this and, more importantly, He’s got me.

Be strong and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the LORD, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6


But, what’s the point?

Without going full-out drama queen on this topic, do you ever find yourself asking the question of worth? Like, what is the point…really?

I’m having those thoughts/feelings a lot lately. In some cases, it’s overly obvious.

The point of changing my daughter’s diaper is because she smells bad and if I let her sit in her own filth, some sort of rash/illness/unpleasantness will affect her backside.

The point of making dinner is so that we can nourish our bodies and function properly… or as I tell my students constantly “Eating and sleeping promote optimal brain function”. (College students seem to have the hardest time with this concept for some reason.)

The non-obvious “what’s the point” answers are the ones that are getting to me lately. The times I ask the question and can’t answer myself are the times when I sit and wallow and don’t get much done because I don’t see the point…those moments seem to be taking over my week.

Here I sit. Here I wallow. And what’s the point of it all?

For thus says the LORD: Only after seventy years have elapsed for Babylon will I deal with you and fulfill for you my promise to bring you back to this place.

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.

When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you.

When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart,

I will let you find me—oracle of the LORD—and I will change your lot; I will gather you together from all the nations and all the places to which I have banished you—oracle of the LORD—and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you.

Jeremiah 29:10-14


What do you do?


I sat in the office of my Ecclesiology professor anxiously as he read ALOUD the answers I had written to the assigned questions. Not really out of the ordinary, since it’s an independent study and all of our meetings take place in his office as he looks over my work. But there is still something nerve wracking about hearing your own thoughts read back to you.

He pauses as we chat about the Apostles and the role of Judaism in the early church.

“You’re a nurse, right?”

“Ummm, no.”

“Oh. I just assumed because of your name-tag and purple shirt. The nursing students wearing purple tops during their clinicals. So, what do you do again?”

Ugh. Double Ugh.

Ugh #1 (the smaller of the ughs): We have met before. We have had this conversation before. Repeating myself makes me feel unseen, Father. And, yes, I know we will probably have this conversation again.

Ugh #2: I hate this question. This goes even beyond a hatred of talking about myself. The reason I hate this question is twofold (apparently everything is going to be twofold today):

Reason number one I hate this question is that the answer is not simple. I cannot finish this conversation in one or two words. I envy people with succinct titles. Teachers. Doctors. Accountants. Astronauts. Princesses.  I am usually lucky if I can wrap up this answer within 20 minutes. It’s complicated.

Here it is in a nutshell: My paid jobs are two part time jobs squished together to form a full time job so that I can enjoy benefits. Most days, it feels like two full time jobs with part time hours. They are both in ministry positions, one in direct service of college students and one at a more administrative level at our diocesan offices. Both are very important, time consuming and, at times, brain-meltingly stressful. Beyond my paid work, I can see the finish line of receiving my Master’s degree, but I’m not quite there yet. Oh, and after that I try to fit in taking care of a house, being a mom (to a nine month old who’s new favorite way of communicating is bloodcurdling screams) , a wife (to a wonderful husband who also works way too hard at too many jobs) and a human.

That last one is debatable. I think humans have sleep and nutritional requirements I’m not meeting.

to do


Reason number two that I hate being asked what I do is that I’m not in love with the answer.  I like the answer well enough.I like that ministry is actually a job, since most days it doesn’t really feel like work. I like paying bills. I like health insurance. I like feeding my family. I like not having to serve fries and medium Diet Cokes to total strangers. I like being useful.

I don’t like having to split my focus between two communities that deserve more. I don’t like the hours. I don’t like the stress. I don’t like dropping my daughter off at a babysitter. I don’t like the thanklessness. I don’t like calls that inform me that I am allowing Satan to corrupt our children. (true, and very long, story)

Now, I’m not under any false impression that I am going to love any career path I take 100% of the time. And, while I still hold out for a lottery win so that I can stay home with my family full time, I’m not under any delusion that our mortgage or student loan debt is going to magically disappear and give me that opportunity. But I can get so bogged down in the labels and the titles and the logged hours and…and…and…

It’s so easy to forget my purpose in the midst of my roles, both paid and unpaid. I’m supposed to help other people get to heaven and I work to be able to see them there myself. End of statement.


Easier said than done, right? True. I’m not saying being a good Catholic Christian is “easier” than my day jobs, which just happen to be ministry related. In fact, it’s actually probably a million times harder.

My point, I think, in all of this rambling is that I let the little, unimportant worldly things get in my way. And I let it happen all the time. I get bogged down and wallow in my hopelessness. I let the dark win.

And, maybe even a bigger problem would be that I let all the “what do you do?” questions cloud my view of answering the real question: “Who are you?”

So, maybe that’s the lesson for the day:I am more than what I do. Or what I don’t do.

What I do will change. Who I am will not.

And who am I?
Well, at my very core, I am loved deeply by my Creator. And once I come back to that realization, which seems like a daily journey sometimes, I can do anything.




I hate the Internet

I know today is about love. I get that. I also (obviously) don’t really hate the Internet…I’m being dramatic. I’m a girl on Valentine’s Day, totally to be expected.

But, at the very least, I’m not very happy with parts of the Internet at them moment. And, like most of the times when I’m angry or hateful, it’s myself that I’m actually mad at and not the person/thing/website.

And here’s the deep dark secret: My name is Jen and I’m a Comparison Addict. (“Hi, Jen,” say the disembodied voices in my head) It’s horrible. I can go to the darkest hole of pity and self loathing with the snap of your fingers. And the biggest obstacle is the fact that I spend a (much too) big portion of my life looking at other people’s lives on a screen.


I think I would have done better in a life before the Internet. Granted, I wouldn’t have traveled beyond my street because my sense of direction without a GPS can be equated to that of toddler who was just spinning in circles for 18 minutes straight. But, I yearn for a time when I didn’t have filtered, perfect smiles mocking me and my unwashed hair. I need to be able to get through a day without someone having a thought that makes me question my own existence. And the cheesy couple posts…ugh don’t get me started. If it’s possible, I couldn’t loathe/love anything more.

Case in point: My husband sent me roses today. Now, I believe that my husband is the most perfect person in the world and, if I didn’t have Jesus in my life, my love for my husband borderline idolatry. But did I thank him as soon as I said good-bye to the delivery man? No, the first thing I did after receiving this beautiful gift: I took and posted a picture of it. I needed people to see what had happened. I needed to be noticed. I needed to prove to myself that I was important enough to be included in the blizzard of heartfelt pictures and declarations of love happening on Facebook today. (I did eventually thank my husband.)

And this happens more than on holidays. There are times I can find myself hours deep into looking at someone’s vacation pictures from 4 years ago because I need to convince myself that, in some way, it wasn’t perfect. Or that my thighs look smaller than that woman’s profile picture from 2011.

It’s bad for me. I know it’s bad for me.Sometimes I state out loud in my empty office how bad it is for me while I click the next link. But it is so easy to get caught up in. And its so hard to stop.

It feels a lot like being a child and screaming for your mom to look at you. Over and over and over and over until you get her attention. And why? So that she can praise you or smile and nod. So that she can love you and accept you and so that you can be known.

Listen to Me Sign Person Tries to Get Attention in Crowd

See where I’m going with this yet?

Someone is watching. He’s always watching. Even when I’m not selfie worthy and even when I’m down the rabbit hole of hating myself while studying the most minute detail of someone else’s profile, God is watching. And He’s loving me. And I am known to Him.

And He is sad that I don’t realize that. That I am beating up what I consider to be unworthy in myself. That I am tearing down His child.

And with His help, I’m working on it. I don’t have all the answers. Heck, I don’t have any of the answers. But my tactic of praying my way through the darkness, is getting me closer.

So, I’m praying for you, couple who just announced their pregnancy. And you, person who ate a really pretty looking salad last Tuesday. And, most of all, I’m praying for you, unsure little girl inside of me who is longing for attention. We’ll get through this.

PS How pretty are those roses?!




Jesus is taunting me…again

In one of my two offices for my (paid) jobs, there is a bookshelf that I pace in front of. I’m a telephone pacer, a bored pacer and an “I need to get my steps in without leaving this office” pacer. And while I pace sometimes I look over and every time I am guaranteed to see the cover of this book.img_2724

I don’t know why it surprises me every time…I never move it. I never even pick it up. I just look at it and feel the Lord taunting me.

Ok…I guess taunting is a bad word. Testing? Checking in? Reminding? Throwing pebbles at my head à la Romeo and Juliet?

He’s trying to get me attention.

And I give it to Him. But,usually just long enough to think: “Ha, right! I’ll think of loving you and, Jesus, you can go ahead and catch up on my laundry, plan these five events, get the baby to sleep through the night and get me to lose an undisclosed number of pounds that are hanging out around my waist. Nice try, buddy. I’m not falling for that.”

Today, though, I stopped and tried not to be sassy with our Lord and Savior. I thought about what the cover is really asking of me, what it really means to love Jesus, why He wants me to do it more than anything else.

A quote attributed to St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (Is that what we call her now? In our house, she’s still Momma T.) comes to mind:

“I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”

With Valentine’s Day being right around the corner, its easy to equate “love” with the cheesy cards, gifts and movies that are attacking all of our senses right now. The good feelings and pretty hearts and happily ever afters aren’t what book-cover-Jesus and actual Jesus want from me.

He wants me to serve: my family, the people of my ministries, the people I forget to pray for, the people the world forgets. He wants me to think of myself less and of them more. He wants me to open my eyes and my heart to the suffering around me and offer to help in my own small way. He wants me to stop complaining about things that don’t matter and work to change things that do. (OK…that half of that might be more what I want. I’m getting really annoyed by my own complaining lately. And you know its bad when you are annoyed by yourself.) He wants me to trust that He will take care of me, and everything else for that matter, even when I spend half my life worrying about the outcome.

Ok, book-cover-Jesus, you win. Today, I will let you think of everything and I will think of loving you. And I will continue to learn what that love means for me.



Thoughts on my Fitbit (oh, hey 2017!)

I had a Fitbit once upon a time in my other life (you know, pre-home ownership, pre-marriage, pre-baby). My former employer gave them out as a way to increase wellness and challenge the coworkers, which was fun. But all good things must be given back when you change jobs.

So, I recently treated myself to an on-sale newer, fancier type. You guys, this thing is so intense now! Working my way to goals and such, I’ve had lots of strangely deep reflective thoughts on my new fitness toy.

In brief:

  • The ‘bit (look at me, trying to be hip) vibrates when I need to move more. And, you know what, I actually listen! Weird. I wish this existed for other tasks: *Do laundry!* *Get gas!* *Sleep!* *Pray!*…and I wish I responded the same way.
  • This thing tells time. So I save money on all the watches I don’t buy. But, the most frustrating thing in the world (at the moment, I’m sure something new and frustrating-er will come across my radar soon) is that there is the TINIEST but definitely noticeable delay between the time I flick my wrist and when the digital display tells me the time. I’m making a mental note to remember to tease that out for a deep theological reflection at a later date.
  • It praises me when I do good things. Like drinking my goal amount of water or taking 250+ steps in an hour. I didn’t realize how much I needed that. In fact, this morning I just said out loud (ok, it was via text but it totally still counts) that I feel very needy for recognition these days…and then I proceeded to do a Litany of Humility while pacing my office (gotta get those steps in!) You know what feels even needier though, asking for that praise. Whether it be from coworkers, friends or my husband, that is not something you will willingly find me do in any direct way but that doesn’t mean I don’t need it. It just means I’m a coward when it comes to expressing that need. Especially from God. How selfish does it seem to ask God for His time or a sign that you are the biblical “good and faithful servant”? My answer would be “about as selfish as asking my 7 month old to stop crying until my Netflix binge is over” (oh, I can’t even joke about that…it hurts my heart!)

From the desire of being: esteemed/love/extolled/honored/praised/preferred to others/consulted/approved…

Deliver me, Jesus.

Clearly I have no answers to anything above, but that doesn’t mean the Fitbit will quit asking.


I’m surviving

That’s a lot of what it feels like lately. No thriving here. Day by day, moment by moment, I am getting through. A large portion of it is lack of sleep, for sure. Another part, though, I think is feeling disconnected from who I was and who I thought I would be. The cliched phrase is something along the lines of God laughing at our plans and, while I love keeping God jolly, I kind of wish He’d let me in on the joke every once and a while.

And, unfortunately but not unpredictably, right now the focus of my “I wishes” is revolving around my physical appearance. Still got the baby tummy, still got the stretch marks, still not the gorgeous, twig who can confidently do anything she wants and has a perfect heart of gold. And, like most bad feelings I find myself in, I don’t shake them away easily. I’m defining myself by the way others define me and/or how I look at any given moment. Not the precious child of God who has a unique place in this world. Thank goodness I have a baby girl, who is thankfully the spitting image of her daddy, to distract from the fact that I don’t love myself the way that I should because of some ill-conceived notions in my head. So, I’ll love her, and her daddy, the very best that I can and hope that along the way, I will learn to use some of that unconditional love on myself as well.


Mommy Mode

Today is Vivi’s first day at the babysitter’s house. *Pause for highly emotional moment*

And, besides the constant feeling of wanting to go and pick her up which began at 8am, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed, and let’s face it exhausted. I thought that things were crazy when I was the only one who needed to leave for the day but, unsurprisingly, getting three people up and out the door in the morning is 3x the crazy. So, all day long I’ve been brainstorming ways to take control before I lose my sanity completely.

My newest project, which I’m still madly in love with (check back in 3 months), is bullet journaling. Now, I am a master of making 17+ to do lists with overlapping items and losing at least 4 of them in the Bermuda triangle, so the thought of having everything together in one place was super appealing. But I actually think that what drew me to this the most was all of the pretty Instagram posts of intricate gorgeous page layouts…so really I’m just hoping at some point my handwriting will magically correct itself into art. The ability for me to use this technique to marry the practical with the creative is (hopefully) what will keep me committed to this new highly organized lifestyle. Well, that and the adorable 2 month old who will only require me to work even harder to stay a step ahead (or at the very least caught up) with her ever-changing world.

Have I mentioned I miss my baby girl?