I’ve been maintaining a couple blog sites for a while now, and it’s time to simplify. The content is the same, but it will now be delivered to your inbox as a newsletter. I promise I won’t clutter it up with too many emails – only a few times a month at most.
St. Tom’s Lenten Mission Monday-Wednesday, March 30-April 1 7-9pm Eastern 6-8pm Central
This year, our Lenten practices have taken on new meaning. join author Karen May and artist Katie Schmid on the journey through Holy Week. We’ll help you experience Lent and Holy Week in a way that leads you to the joy and resurrection of Easter
There is no charge, but we’re asking for donations
If you are able, please donate to theMother Teresa Fundto assist those in need of rent and utility assistance in the West Lafayette area, or to your local churches or charities to help those in need. Please be generous!
Each night will end with 30 minutes of adoration. Please join us in prayer.
My daughter’s wedding was canceled and rescheduled in 24 hours. The lessons we learned from adapting our plans are lessons that we are taking into our lives in a world of pandemic and quarantine. I hope they can help you with yours.
Y’all, this is hard, but it’s not impossible
We tried so hard to hold on to my daughter’s wedding plans – lots of people at the church, a beautiful reception with friends and family, dancing, cake, flowers, and champagne toasts.
When we finally let go, we discovered what really mattered to us. We found joy and grace. We were filled with love and support from our community, and it was the perfect wedding.
As my daughter said in her post about our experience,
“This wasn’t the wedding day we imagined, but how could we imagine anything better than this?”
We are living in a crazy world where the future is filled with uncertainty, fear, and suffering. Watch my video for a reminder that it is also a future of hope, grace, and blessing.
Let me know if I can pray for you.
We can do this together.
My daughter’s post:
“…we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” | Romans 5:3-5
We made the difficult decision on Monday evening to move our March 28th wedding up eleven days to Tuesday, March 17th. We had thought we’d have 200 guests at our wedding; instead, because of restrictions on large gatherings, we had 7 attendees. We had planned on all-you-can-eat barbecue, an open bar, professional flowers, a four-tier cake, and a DJ; instead, we assembled a bouquet from grocery store flowers, ate takeout Mexican food for dinner, and did our first dance in my parents’ living room. If you would have told us a couple months ago that we were going to have to re-plan our wedding in less than 24 hours, we would have FREAKED OUT.
But today, we are so happy.
The outpouring of love, support, and encouragement we have received over the last two days has been incredible. If everything had gone according to our perfectly well-laid-out plans, we would not have seen the true depth of love that our family and friends have for us. My amazing sisters Lindsey, Jenna, and Vanessa went above and beyond to make the day happen, painting my nails and scouring grocery stores for cake and flowers. My new sister-in-law Steph dropped everything to drive to Austin and help with the preparations. Our wonderful friends Sara and Julio did the same, driving into town so Ben could have a groomsman at the ceremony and to help with the little day-of details that we put together at the last moment. Several family friends used their time and efforts to set up decorations, deliver food to us, and help with my hair and makeup, and my parents Karen and Mike worked tirelessly to make it all happen.
We exchanged vows in a nearly empty church, but created a livestream event on Facebook so our guests could watch the ceremony from their homes. Seeing everyone posting photos of themselves dressed up and having a drink in our honor meant the world to us. After the ceremony, when we walked outside, dozens of families and friends were parked in the parking lot, honking their horns and flashing their lights and cheering for us. We kept our “social distance” and couldn’t go hug them like we wanted to, but we were so moved by the selfless dedication of everyone who chose to be there for us, both in person and online.
This wasn’t the wedding day we imagined, but how could we imagine anything better than this?
This quote is from a print that I gave away as part of a Lenten package on Instagram, and I think it’s a great way to approach our Lenten practices this year.
We can give up chocolate, coffee (your family asked me to tell you, “Please don’t!”), social media, our phones, or even warm showers (I’m not that strong.) The list is endless and each one is a worthy sacrifice.
Or our sacrifice can be an empty practice of discipline that does nothing more than help us get rid of a habit we don’t like. It’s more about us than it is ever going to be about God.
Our Lenten practices are most effective when we are purposeful in the point of what we do. When I fasted for Lent on year, I prayed for those who were hungry every time I wanted a snack. I gave great thanks for the bread and water that I had for breakfast and lunch each Wednesday, and I returned to my normal eating practices after Easter with a much better understanding of how everything that I had was a gift from God. My home, my family, my food, my health. I saw all of it with different eyes that saw God’s love for me more clearly than ever.
Are you giving something up this year? What are you replacing it with that will help you grow in love for Jesus? Are you adding something – a practice or a service? Will you do it with love in mind?
That’s the end result of Lent isn’t it – that Jesus loves you so much that He gives His life for you, destroys death, and opens the door of heaven? For you?
Don’t you want to be part of that relationship? I know I do.
What are you doing for Lent this year?
I recommend my book, Walking Through Holy Week. It’s not too late to order yourself a copy and discover how much Jesus loves you in a deep and personal way. Being a part of the story changes it forever.
What are you doing for Lent? Is it going to help you get ready for Easter?
In my travels to the Holy Land, I realized in a new way that the story of salvation has many layers that build and support each other in incredible ways.
The story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is compelling and meaningful in its own right. Old Testament stories and events bring a new level of meaning and depth the everything Jesus did and said. Standing where Jesus taught, was imprisoned, died, and rose again adds yet another layer of understanding.
The story of Jesus is like a pool with varying depth – shallow enough to wade in and deep enough for an elephant to swim. How deep do you want to go?
In my book Walking Through Holy Week, I help you discover the connections and depth that lie before you in each of the Masses leading up to Easter.
The week of celebration and remembrance is full of prophesy and fulfillment, participation and perspective. During Holy Week, we become a part of the story in ways that we don’t do the rest of the year.
This Lent read Walking Through Holy Weekand prepare your heart to sit with Jesus at the Last Supper, to pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, and to stand at the foot of the cross as He gives His life for you. See each event with new eyes as you explore the ways that each one tells you something about the work being done at Easter. Then the glory of the empty tomb will be more real than it ever has been before.
Sharing my photos with my family from two weeks in Israel, I knew I had to fly through to keep their attention. I have hundreds of photos, but not even my family wants to go into my adventures in that level of detail.
I will spare you the hundreds and offer you a few photos and hopefully some insights that will help you to experience at least a little of the wonderful journey I made while I was there.
After landing in Tel Aviv, we made a beeline for the Sea of Galilee and spent the first week on the shores of where Jesus grew up and taught on a daily basis. So many of the stories in the Bible are from this area at the top of the Sea. We walked in Capernaum, Nazareth, and in the countryside where Jesus fed 5,000 people and taught the people about the Beatitudes. We went out to sea in a boat with a warning that we were not allowed to jump off – presumably to stop all of us who wanted to try our hands at walking on the water.
The land here is much the same as it was when Jesus was here. The city of Tiberius is developed and modern, but that is about it. It was so easy to place yourself in Jesus’ time. The centuries permeate the ground here. Everything about it made me feel that our own history in the United States is so very, very young.
Sea of Galilee summary – This life was grounded, connected, simple, yet hard. People worked here, they longed for more here, they worshiped here, and they searched for the Messiah they knew would come. They could see Jesus in person – some of them saw who He was, some of them didn’t. We may not see Jesus in person, but He is very visible in our world. Some see who He is, some do not. We’re not so different after all.
Like Jesus, our final destiny was Jerusalem. None of us were ready to leave as the buses headed across the countryside. The Galilee is a place of beauty and peace, and it was daunting to think of heading into the city and maintaining our spiritual focus. We had little to fear.
Standing on the Mount of Olives, we looked over Jerusalem and saw the story laid out before us. From the Mount of Olives, Jesus walked into Jerusalem and celebrated Passover in the Upper Room. Walking on the road next to Caiphas’ house where He would shortly be brought before the high priest, Jesus and the apostles made their way back to the Mount of Olives to where Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Imaging walking free, knowing that in just a few hours you would return as a prisoner, only to be freed after your death. I wonder if Jesus paused there a moment before continuing on. It definitely made me pause.
From the Garden, the story ramped up and so did we. Walking the Way of the Cross, carrying our own crosses through the streets of Jerusalem until we arrived at Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was a moving experience. As we attended Mass next to the empty tomb, we heard the story of Mary Magdalene coming to the tomb and frantically asking where they had taken Jesus’ body.
He is risen, He is not here. We could touch all the places where He had been, but He wasn’t there anymore. Instead, He is much closer than He ever was in person.
We sat on the steps of the Temple Mount and listened to Jeff Cavins teach, much like the crowds at Pentecost would gather to hear teachings of rabbis and leaders. But, we knew that on one particular Pentecost, they heard a very different teaching from Peter as the Holy Spirit filled him with wisdom and courage to proclaim what had happened fifty days before. Can you imagine being there for that? Standing on the steps, I surely could.
Finally, it was time to leave and we finished our journey in the city of Joppa. Jonah had been sent from here with a message of repentance and forgiveness to the Gentiles of Nineveh. Peter left from here to meet with the Gentile Cornelius and a message of salvation and acceptance. And we left here with a mission to spread the Gospel to all who will listen, regardless of who they are, because they are all children of God who need to hear the message and the good news we have to share.
My journey is over, but somehow, I feel like it has only just begun. Thank you for coming along.
If you would like more details, photos, and specific takeaways from each site, please check out my Facebook and Instagram pages.
Standing on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, these words echoed in my heart much as they had been spoken by Peter after witnessing Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountaintop.
“It is good that we are here.”
It is good that I am here.
Just as Peter witnessed Jesus in His glory speaking to Elijah and Moses, I was walking the ground where Jesus walked, witnessing the story on the ground level, and I was moved and amazed. I sat where Jesus preached about the Beatitudes, and where He fed the 5,000. I stood in the Garden of Gethsemane overlooking the Temple mount, thinking of how Jesus prayed with His destiny clearly in view. I sat on the Southern Steps of the Temple mount and listened to Jeff Cavin explain the words Jesus had spoken in that very place.
It’s one thing to read about it. It’s quite another to be there.
Yet, as we came to the Mount of the Transfiguration, the rest of the story didn’t sit with me as well. After the Transfiguration, everything returns to normal and Jesus, Peter, and the others come down the mountain to go on with life as they had before.
I knew this journey would end, but I really liked the mountaintop view. How do you go back down the mountain? How do you keep from losing the power of the view?
I wondered this as I went to Mass on Sunday. I had been to Mass on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, on the banks of the Jordan, and in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where we worshiped in view of the places where Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, and rose from the dead. I could see all of those places from my seat in Mass as we celebrated and received Jesus in the bread and the wine of the Eucharist.
Now, my church is beautiful, but not much can compare to those Masses.
Sitting in the pew, waiting for Mass to begin, it struck me.
It is good that I am here.
I hadn’t left the mountaintop. I brought it with me.
Jesus walked the hills of Galilee and the streets of Jerusalem, and He is here with me more intimately than He ever was there. As the readings are proclaimed, I am sitting at His feet, just as the people of Israel did all those years ago. As I hear the words, “This is my body, given up for you,” I see the hill of Calvary and the place where they laid Him in the tomb. As I sing “Holy, holy, holy,” I praise God with the angels, knowing more deeply than I ever did before that His Son walked the earth as I am doing now.
Where I am is not a let down from the mountain. It is filled and given so much more depth because of the mountain.
For that, I am truly grateful.
I hope that you were able to join me on my journey through Facebook and Instagram. If not, I’ll share some highlights and pictures tomorrow. For now, I invite you to be here with me in this holy place where Jesus is closer to you than you can imagine.
I am kicking off the new year with an incredible trip. I’m headed to the Holy Land for two weeks!
I’ve never been, and I can’t wait to spend time in the places where Jesus lived, taught, performed miracles, died, was buried, and rose again.
Many people who have visited the Holy Land have told me that there is something about the experience that goes much deeper than you would expect. I hope to discover that for myself.
Follow along on Facebook or Instagram for (mostly) daily highlights and insights. I will be sharing my journey, and want to take you along with me. I will share some of the highlights here in mid-February, but the daily details will be on Facebook and Instagram.
I will be praying for you all along the way. The sites I will visit are listed below. Email me to let me know your prayer intention and where you would like me to pray for you. I will keep them confidential, and I hold it as a high honor to be able to pray for you.
Please pray for me and for the people I am traveling with. May God’s grace pour into our hearts and help us to come closer to Him. May our journey help others to discover the beauty of their faith.
Every time we went skiing over the last several years, they would all glide down the slopes, skis floating above the snow, turning with ease, stopping on a dime. Me? I would sink into the snow, couldn’t turn my skis without huge effort, and would fight for every advance in my technique.
I skied by stopping my way down the mountain.
That is until last year, when I had an instructor who could help me figure out how to ride my way down instead. Rather than stopping at every turn, my turns would connect into one long ride. Now, I can hesitatingly say that I enjoy skiing.
Funny enough, I do the same in my spiritual life.
So often in the last few years, God has placed an opportunity or desire in front of me and I’ve looked at it in fear and trepidation. I have no idea how I’m going to do what He’s obviously calling me to, and I am verbose in telling God that He is quite mistaken in this calling.
Recently, I made the conscious decision not to fight God’s will anymore, and I was immediately slammed with a really tough test of my commitment.
It was about halfway through that test that I realized that I was doing the absolute opposite of what I had said I was going to do. The problem was that I hadn’t meant it completely. When I said I would always do what I thought God was asking, riding rather than fighting and stopping my way through it, I realized that I was talking about the positive things – the things that may have been hard to do, but were part of something that felt like blessing.
I wasn’t talking about the hard things – suffering, illness, or brokenness. I didn’t want to ride on that mountain. Who does?
Meanwhile it was exactly what God had in mind for me. It was a question – “Will you say yes even to this? Will you trust me through it and stop the struggle enough to find Me in it? Not after it, not outside waiting, but here in the middle of it? Will you ride with me or will you spend all your energy trying to stop?”
It was a challenge – “Embrace your cross and find glory in it. Experience all of this. Don’t miss a moment, because there is beauty here. There is wonder here. There is grace here. There is growth here. You will unite with me here.”
All of these were true and by God’s grace I was able to finally ride my way through what God had for me.
Currently, I’m doing much better at riding instead of stopping. I’m giving God my (generally) unreserved yes when He calls.
I’m saying yes, but it’s not a frantic yes. It’s not a pressured yes. It’s a yes of peace. It’s a yes of confidence. It’s a yes of trust. It’s a yes of love, knowing that God’s plan for me is a perfect plan that will not fail. It’s an incredible journey. I just need to ride it, not stop through it.
Today I’m riding.
Is God asking you to do something? Are you riding or stopping? Comment below and let me know how you’re doing. I’ll pray for you or cheer for you, whichever one you need!
I always celebrate Epiphany by taking down the Christmas decorations. Actually, I make sure that the decorations stay up until Epiphany because the Christmas season lasts that long. No reason to close it up early!
As we put away the tree, the lights, and the decorations and return to ordinary time, let’s take a moment to remember why we celebrate this day in the first place.
This is the day we remember the wise men who came to visit Jesus after His birth. Following a star that appeared in the sky, they knew better than the people living near Jesus that this birth was something special. Wise men who knew nothing of God knew that a king had been born, and he was important enough to journey for days in order to give him homage.
Sometimes it takes an outsider to show us what we should already know.
Think about it. Herod had no idea until the wise men showed up in Jerusalem and asked about the newborn king. The high priest wasn’t looking to celebrate the birth of the Messiah. But the wise men had seen a star and knew.
How could they have known? What were they looking for? Why were they looking at all?
Are we looking? What are we looking for? How will we know?
If you’re not looking, I would challenge you to start. It’s a little late for new year’s resolutions, but I’m always a fan of “better late than never.” Start looking. Expect God to show up. Find someone who can help you see – sometimes it takes an outsider to show us what we should already know.
How will we know? That’s the thing – we do know. We feel it deeply within us. We resonate with it. It touches our soul in a way nothing else does. Something says to us, “I should pay attention to this.” Yet we discount it as a wish, or an emotional response, or a desire for something more. What if it is something more? There was something about that star that stood out from all the others. There is something about that moment or that conversation or that message that stands out for you. Don’t dismiss it. Test it. See if leads to something. See if it builds your faith or clarifies your calling. You’ll know!
As the wise men arrive at the manger, may we be inspired to continue our journey to Jesus, following the stars that are placed before us, leading our way.