Darcie Discipleship Faith Formation Ink Slingers

Do You Need Jesus?

Do You Need Jesus?

Growing up, my parents did a really great job teaching my brother and I the difference between a need and a want. I remember going to them for different things saying, “I need that new bike,” or even, “I need to go to my friend’s house.” My mom had a way of looking at us and we knew the question was coming, “Do you need that or just want that?” We’d stop and think, and realize that many of our so-called “needs” were actually “wants.”

Sometimes when my brother or I would realize we were asking for a “want” my parents would start singing the infamous “you can’t always get what you want” song. To this day, I really can’t stand that song, yet I find myself singing it to my daughters…

We can ask ourselves: do we want Jesus or do we need Jesus?

Because there is a big difference.

I think many of us get stuck in only wanting Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful thing to want Jesus. It’s wonderful to want Him in our lives and to be part of His. Wanting Him shows our love for Him. But just like a bike or going somewhere, we can easily move onto wanting something else. Not only that, but circumstances can change and with it our wants. It’s hard to want Jesus when we’re faced to speak against the current or stand up for the truth. We want Jesus, but when it’s good for us.

When we need Jesus, it’s completely different.

To need Jesus is live what He told us, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). To need Jesus means that believing every single thing in our life depends on Him. Needing Him leads to prayer because we need to be with Him. It leads to thanksgiving because we see that everything comes from Him.

Needing Jesus not only puts Him in the center of our lives, but needing Him keeps Him there. That’s what we want this Lent. We want Jesus to be the center of our lives. Get this, we want to need Him.

Maybe you’ve already realized it, but that need for Jesus in our hearts is more often created during times when there’s suffering, pain or brokenness. Those moments when we feel burdened and the weight is crushing us is when we can say, “I need Jesus.” When we become more aware of our failings and sinfulness is when we can only say, “I need Jesus.”

And do you realize how wonderful that is? Because if we need Jesus, everything changes. That is the irony of our faith. When we’re weak, we’re strong. When we don’t have anything but Jesus, we have everything.

Jesus wants to be your everything. He’s asking you, daughter, do you want Me or do you need Me?


Darcie Faith Formation Ink Slingers Marriage Prayer

Stepping Out of the Boat

Stepping out of the Boat

Four months ago, my husband and I spent an entire weekend finally starting our business. I say finally because this is something we had dreamed of five years ago when we were about to get married. We loved the idea of working together and being our own bosses. Our skill sets, styles of work, and temperaments complimented each other. We planned it out and dreamed big. We were convinced we were meant to do this and disappointed when it didn’t happen. There were too many moving parts and it was clear it wasn’t the right time.

You can understand then, why we were on fire that fall weekend when the inspiration came back. In 48 hours, we had a name, logo, website and had started the legal paperwork. We thought it would be a good starting point to funnel my freelance work through. We planned to slowly build it up until there was enough work for my husband to leave his current job and come on full-time. But that wasn’t God’s plan. On that following Monday afternoon, my husband was unexpectedly let go from his job.

The business went to the back burner and the applying process for my husband took over. Until, we were struck by the seemingly crazy idea that what if, right now, was actually the right time to start our business? Right now when we have two little children, me only working part-time and still saving for a house – right now? We felt like Peter talking to Jesus from the boat, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (Mt. 14:28). Was God asking us to step out of the boat?

Of course, it was God’s providence that my husband was leaving for a pilgrimage less than a week later, that we had booked months before. We both prayed during that time, and we asked God what He wanted us to do. The same answer came up for us both: He wanted us to do it. Like Peter, we heard Jesus say, “Come” (Mt. 14:29).

So we stepped out of the boat. We started walking towards Jesus.

The confirmations kept coming. With clients knocking on our door, our business was starting to take shape. That’s not to say that the waves threaten us, but we resolved to keep our focus on Jesus. For we know what happened to Peter when he took his gaze off of Jesus – he started to sink. We know that if we start looking at the strong wind around us that we will get frightened. Our only focus has to be Jesus

This journey is still unfolding. I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far about God’s incredible goodness in this process.

How We Stepped Out

First, just because it isn’t the right time for something now, doesn’t mean there won’t be the right time for it in the future. When our attempt to start a business five years ago failed, I automatically thought God didn’t want it all. I was disappointed that my husband and I wouldn’t work together and that we’d never be our own bosses. I was even mad, why would God put that desire in our hearts and then not let us follow through? How often do we assume a one-time failure is a forever-failure? God wants to remind us that His timing is not our timing. It is precisely because we failed five years ago that we recognized the opportunity to start a business this time. Sometimes our “failures” are just God’s heads up for future plans. Those desires He placed in our hearts are meant to be fulfilled!

Second, we all want to give our control to God, but when the opportunity actually presents itself, we panic. I think it’s because God knows it’s when and how we least expect it. It digs deep and requires trust. Not the kind of surface trust, but that trust without words. That trust in which you literally trust Him with your life and everything in it. Do we trust Him or not? Are we in the boat or walking on the water? How often do we not trust Him because it’s “too crazy,” “too unknown,” or “letting go of too much”? God wants us to trust Him. Yes, we can say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” but He also gives us opportunities to show that we do.

Lastly, we chose the Infant of Prague as the patron for our business. There’s a nine-hour novena that’s very powerful (and short!) I found that praying for the same intention three times in a row for nine consecutive hours (27 times total) helped me figure out exactly what it is I’m asking for. This is the novena for you if you’ve had an intention that’s been feeling “stuck”!

We walk forward aware of Jesus’ words to Peter once he started sinking, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14:31). Let us resolve to have faith and not doubt God’s marvelous plans for us.

Jesus, Infant of Prague, intercede for us!

Ink Slingers

Desolation: When God Seems Far Away

I’m in desolation. Maybe you are too. Or maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re in consolation, but you can still use this post to help prepare you for your next desolation.

Consolations and desolations are part of the spiritual journey. They go hand in hand, each preparing for the other. The graces we receive in consolation can only be tested and applied in desolation. Yet desolations humble us and cause us to cry out to God for more graces that we then receive in consolation. We need them both and the more we become aware of them, the greater we can profit from each.

Consolations are those times when God seems so close, His voice so clear, and there’s true peace and joy in our hearts. Then there are desolations. When God seems to be far away, silent, and there’s anxiety, sadness or fear. St. Ignatius of Loyola composed the spiritual exercises to help us navigate the consolations and desolations, and while I’m no expert, I’ll share what I’ve found helpful in applying them.

When in desolation, it’s hard to admit, but the desolation is often caused by our own doing. (Unless we’re like St. Mother Teresa and St. John of the Cross and other saints who experienced the dark night of the soul in which God purposefully withdrew Himself!) Desolation is usually caused by our own sinfulness that starts to creep in and then reaches a point in which we look away from God. It’s often a gradual process and I’ve recognized how it slowly develops in my life:

  1. First, it begins with losing an interest in prayer or becoming too busy to have time to pray. Then when I do pray, it’s dry and distracted. This makes it all the more harder to make time for it, so it slowly gets shorter and shallower.
  2. Second, is when I start doubting God’s closeness and care because I don’t have the deep prayer life to hear the loving voice of The Father. This leads to an inward focus, which starts to be expressed in selfishness and a criticizing spirit of others and eventually myself.
  3. Third, it’s losing a taste for spiritual things. Daily Mass feels more like a burden than a joy. All the while, worldly things take priority for attention, especially food.
  4. Fourth, is when there’s a lack of the sense of sin around us. That TV show isn’t that bad. That lie wasn’t that big. That comment wasn’t that inappropriate.
  5. Fifth, we sin ourselves.

Needless to say, desolation can lead to a dark place, to sin. So that’s why it’s important to recognize when we’re starting down the path of desolation. We know God will never try us beyond our strength, but we must also give desolation a good fight! Sometimes it can be as easy as doing a physical activity– a brisk walk, a bike ride, or a run to snap us out of desolation. Sometimes we need more:

  1. First, put more effort and love into prayer. Now is not the time to change your prayer routine, stick with it. If you can add more, perhaps a visit to the tabernacle or ejaculatory prayer of, “God help me to pass through this desolation without sinning!”
  2. Second, help another person. Choose a corporal work of mercy or volunteer at a soup kitchen. By doing so, we come out of ourselves.
  3. Third, make a sacrifice to curb the draw to worldly things. Fast from a dessert or coffee, or a TV show, or Facebook. By fasting we are praying with our bodies.
  4. Fourth, express more thanksgiving and praise to God. Recognizing everything we’re thankful for, even the desolation, lifts our heart to Heavenly things. Thanksgiving helps us regain God’s outlook on sin.
  5. Fifth, get to Confession. All that has bubbled up in the desolation is ready to be purified by the Blood of Christ. Hold nothing back from Him.

If we are attentive to the sins uprooted in each desolation, we truly are better off at the end of it. Better yet, the consolations will be all the more sweeter. It is then in those consolations we should begin praying for the grace to go through our next desolation. As we journey along the spiritual life, let us remember that we will become more sensitive to the change from consolation to desolation and vice versa.

So if you’re in desolation, be at peace. It will pass. Keep praying. Keep fighting. Keep going.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us!

Ink Slingers

Welcome Back One-piece

(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

This summer I am welcoming back the one-piece bathing suit. And you can too! It’s not about hiding stretch marks or feeling more confident than in a two-piece (because I do!). It’s about reclaiming modesty.

I think most of us women can reflect on our coming of age years and realize that we hit a certain point––we didn’t want to be “girls” anymore; we wanted to be “women.” We wanted to grow up already. We wanted to wear makeup, shave our legs, and wear two-piece bathing suits (which are essentially a bra and underwear, right?!). We didn’t want to be “cute” anymore. Without knowing it at the time, we were also rushing to give up our modesty and innocence.

I don’t know about you, but that rush into womanhood (as defined by culture) led me down a path away from God and from who I really wanted to be. The culture taught me that my identity as a woman and my beauty was on the outside. I lost respect for myself and for others and that was revealed in my dress–too tight, too revealing, too short. Turns out, this way of living was not fulfilling, nor life-giving.

I suppose this is a prodigal-daughter-like story because God sent a beautiful holy woman into my life to show me what is was like to be a real woman. You might have heard of her, Mother Mary? I came back from a pilgrimage to one of her shrines and my life was forever changed. I first and foremost learned the truth––my identity and beauty came from being a daughter of God and Christ living in me. This changed everything. I gained respect for myself and for others and within six months, I had a new wardrobe.

Mother Mary taught me that her beauty comes from the fact that she loves God with her whole heart. The more I strive to do the same, the more I recognize things in my life that obstruct my love for Him. She has taught me that we must be pure to enter the Kingdom of God. Modesty guards our purity. Our childlike innocence is what lets us see the angels who gaze on God. Mother Mary is the true and best example of womanhood. From her, we can learn everything God desires of us as women.

So back to the one-piece bathing suit. Having learned what I have in my journey and now as a mother of two girls, I feel the importance of this responsibility to show my daughters what true womanhood is. Yes, the culture is still going to tempt them with the rush into womanhood, with manicures at four years old and two-piece bathing suits at five years old, but we cannot underestimate that they still look up to their mothers!

I’m wearing a one-piece bathing suit for my almost three year old daughter. You might be thinking, “She’s three! She doesn’t notice!” but when we went to the beach this past weekend, do you know the first thing she said when she saw me? “Mommy, we match!” as she pointed to her one-piece suit. I smiled and thought to myself, that’s exactly why I’m wearing it. I never would have thought that wearing a one-piece could ever feel so good!

As my daughters get older and we live strive to live the faith, which is often counter-cultural, I hope they always know that I’m on their side fighting with them. That I’m always striving to be a woman like Mother Mary. That they can look up to me. That we match, even if the rest of the world doesn’t.

Mother most pure, pray for us.

Ink Slingers

Moving with Little Ones

While I wish this was a post about getting exercise with children, it’s not. (Although maybe someday, I’ll write about that.) For now, I literally mean packing up everything and moving to a new home. And did I mention with an almost three year old and nine month old?

Here, I am going to outline eight practical tips for moving with children.

  1. It seems so obvious, but sometimes we forget to do it when it comes to events that aren’t religious, per say. Entrust your move to St. Joseph and Mother Mary. They had to flee to Egypt right after Jesus was born so they know how to move on a dime. Ask them to take care of the details; to help keep peace during this time and to let God be glorified through it all. Wouldn’t it be amazing if at the end of the move day, you could say, “Wow, God, that was wonderful. Thank you!” Let us ask St. Paul to intercede for us so we can give thanks in everything.
  2. Get movers. We live in an age of DIY and yes, you can rent a UHaul and yes, you can summon family and friends to help you, but having movers eliminates many worries. Especially with little ones because one parent still has to be all hands on deck, so that leaves one parent doing most of the physical work. Moving is exhausting. Parenting little children is exhausting. Get the movers. You can still be cost-efficient by being prepared and have everything packed so you only have to use them for the minimum time.
  3. Make a packing schedule and list, and start earlier than you think you need to. You can start with the non-essentials and do one box a day. As moving day gets closer, check your schedule often so that you stay on track. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that can take the longest––for example, taking down curtains and curtain rods. A seemingly 20-minute project can be an hour plus once you wash the curtains because in taking them down you realize they were quite dusty! Gradual packing is like spiritual life in that we need to be working on it daily as to not be rushing at the end.
  4. Accept help. If family and friends offer to watch your kids so you can pack before or on the move day, say yes. It’s amazing how much you can pack in one hour uninterrupted as opposed to two hours interrupted. If a friend from church wants to help with a couple boxes, let them. Sometimes we try to keep people away when we don’t feel our home is presentable or that we ourselves aren’t presentable, but it’s humbling to let people see us when we’re less than our best. Let go of the pride and let people in.
  5. As you pack things up, think about if you really use it, want it, or need it. Moving is a good opportunity to declutter and simplify. Do you really use that panini press? Is that second hand coffee table really practical with children? Make the time for deciding now, because we think we’ll have more time once we move, but the truth is that we’ll be getting settled and we won’t want to be deciding about our things then. We’ll end up putting them in the attic and dealing with it later. We all know that later could be in 10 years, at which point we’ll donate or discard them. So save the hassle of moving them and the mental space of keeping of them. Only keep the things you use, want or need.
  6. Lower your expectations. Not to get confused with getting rid of expectations altogether, because that’d be chaos! Lowering expectations is about accepting that things won’t go as you planned, but they’ll still go. Frozen meals for a couple nights will be fine. Boxes overflowing into the living spaces add character to the rooms. Running out of clothes because you sold your washer and dryer makes you thankful for the one you’ll have in the new home. Having lower expectations lets you accept the present state with joy even though it might seem disastrous!
  7. Take pictures. This move is part of your family story. In the future you might have more kids who won’t realize you lived in a different home. They’ll want to know what it was like. They’ll want to see what you were doing before they were born. Pictures always serve as a great record-keeper.
  8. Give tasks to your kids. They like to help and they like to be included. Maybe it’s giving them a marker to label a box with their own writing. Or asking them to hold the tape down as you pull it across the box. They like to see the changes happening around them too. Moving is a family effort and there is something for everyone to do (except the babies, of course), but even they can “supervise” from their high chair.

If you’re moving, you probably want this to end here so you can get started on your packing schedule, but I have just one more thing to add. Moving reminds us that we are pilgrims in this life. Our true home is in Heaven. The home we are moving to won’t be perfect, but we’re thankful nonetheless for what God has provided. May our move be an opportunity to reflect on our eternal dwelling place with the Lord. May it stir in us a deeper desire for Heaven and the things of Heaven.

Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for those of us moving.