January 13 & 20, 2019

It’s 2019! A new year is upon us once again! People love new things. I once knew a person whose favorite thing in the world was a new pair of socks. He loved the feeling of putting on a fresh new pair. It’s the little things, right? A new year means the sometimes-daunting question: what is your new year’s resolution?

How much thought do you put into your resolutions? And how attainable are they? For years, I would set my goals the same repeatedly. I would vow to quit some bad behavior, exercise 30 minutes a day, get that promotion at work, get a new car, get that room in the house remodeled. I was always so specific and usually it was to get something. The last few years, I’ve put much more thought and reflection into my resolutions. It’s sad that it’s taken so many years for me to realize how little the “things” in life really matter. And I know what you’re thinking, “well of course I know that ‘things’ don’t really matter that much, I am not materialistic.” I would have never considered myself materialistic either, but nevertheless my resolutions consisted of “things”.

While it’s wonderful to try and live a healthier lifestyle, advance our career or any number of the other goals people invest so much excitement into at the start of a new year. What we must be careful of is how we feel if these things don’t come easily or even at all. What thoughts come to mind? Well maybe I’ll try again next year? If I can’t do this one thing, why even try? Well, I exercised for the first 2 weeks and then quit, that didn’t last long. Sometimes when we feel disappointed in ourselves, we begin to hear that nagging voice. You aren’t good enough, smart enough, organized enough, quick enough, strong enough. You just aren’t enough. If you could just be better at this or that—things might be different.

The trouble is, this comes in the form of your own voice only--it’s not your voice at all. It’s the voice of the enemy to keep you disillusioned by disappointments. This is when the walls go up. Sometimes you get defensive when others inquire about that goal you so publicly announced on social media. Maybe you become demotivated and just decide it’s not worth it to keep trying. Do you become paralyzed and unable to move forward because you simply weren’t good enough to achieve that one thing?

This is when we quit. This is when we just get a job to make money instead of doing what we are truly called to do. This is when we slide by in our relationships rather than investing in them. This is when the going gets tough and we slowly trickle away from Christ. The myth that many of us believe about having a relationship with Christ is that it must consist of only prayer, discipline and church. Having a relationship with Christ is also about loving ourselves the way that God loves us. And God’s love for us is astounding. It’s a perfect, accepting and unrelenting love.

My only resolution for 2019 is this: I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection. I am that person that becomes paralyzed with thoughts of not being good enough. I let myself fall so far behind on my responsibilities and things and people that I love because of that one thing I didn’t accomplish. This year, instead of resolving to achieve something, I am vowing to not achieve something. I am purposefully living an imperfect life. And so far, it’s going great!! I am fairly certain this is a resolution I can stick with.

Happy New Year from Me & My House. May your year be filled with as much joy and as many blessings as can be possible! May you move swiftly through disappointments and remember to relish in the glory of the good things, even if they are small, few or far between.



I look forward to hearing from you! The intention of ‘Thoughts from Me & My House’ is to be a collaborative column within our parish. Email me at joshua2415smhc@gmail.com with any thoughts, ideas, and opinions you have!


December 2, 2018

Advent is upon us once again and while most of us have a general understanding of what Advent is, it’s a celebration worth talking about! The first thing I want to make sure that everyone knows is that Advent is not a penitential season like Lent. The very definition of Advent is the “arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” It also marks the beginning of the liturgical year of the Catholic Church. Advent serves to remind us of two very important things: to prepare our hearts to celebrate Christmas when we remember the First Coming of Christ and this remembrance directs our minds and hearts to await the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time.

The color violet or purple is used for almost the entirety of Advent except for the third Sunday, known as Gaudete Sunday. On the third Sunday we see pink or rose. The third Sunday represents something like a turning point of joy. While the happiness we get from friends, family and an overflowing plate is wonderful; it is not the same joy we receive when Christ comes.

Happiness and joy are both marvelous feelings, but they are different from each other. Happiness often comes from our circumstances. We are happy when we get to see our loved ones around the holidays. We are happy watching a child’s face light up when they open a gift, and when things are simply going well.

Having joy means that you have a certain happiness no matter what your circumstances are. It’s a sense of being content because you know that God knows your name. Having joy is making a choice to remember that God loves you. Your circumstances could be awful, and you can still choose joy by choosing to abide in His love. Advent is the devout and joyful preparation for the coming of Jesus into our lives.

If Jesus showed up today, would you have the time for him? We have shopping at our fingertips, Christmas music playing 24 hours a day, cookies and hot cocoa, Jolly Holiday Lights and don’t forget to get a picture of the kids with Santa! Some of us have so many parties and gatherings to go to we lose sleep during the month of December. Our options are never ending and sometimes too much. This Advent, I challenge you to “just say no.” Maybe just watch one holiday movie instead of 5. How about just 1 or 2 parties? Do you really need to spend an entire week baking cookies? Put presents in gift bags rather than spending hours wrapping them to perfection.

We don’t say no to disappoint ourselves or anyone else—Advent is not a penitential season. Say no to the rushing from one place to the next and stress of being so busy we have no time for rest. When we say no, we give Christ room to enter our lives. Say no so that you can say yes to Jesus.


I look forward to hearing from you! The intention of ‘Thoughts from Me & My House’ is to be a collaborative column within our parish. Email me at joshua2415smhc@gmail. com with any thoughts, ideas, and opinions you have!


October 28, 2018

What do you think of when you think of Halloween? If you’re like most people nowadays it’s pumpkins, little kids in costumes and trick or treating! It is widely believed that Halloween originated from paganism and Celtic festivals, but it may surprise you to know there are many Catholic contributions to this time of year!

The word “Halloween” is a Scottish word shortened from “Allhallow-even,” which means “All Holy Evening.” This goes all the way back to the 18th century with the English phrase “All Hallows Eve,” having a similar meaning. This “All Holy Evening” is meant to celebrate the holy men and women who are recognized in the Catholic Church as residing in Heaven on the evening before All Saints Day on November 1st.

Pope Gregory III established the feast in the 8th century and Pope Gregory IV extended it to the universal Church and made it a holy day of obligation for all Catholics. At this time, All Saints Day was given a special vigil Mass the night before, which led to that date being regarded as a “holy evening.”

We also dedicate November 2nd, All Souls Day to praying for the souls in purgatory. On this day we are meant to pray for our deceased family and friends and visit cemeteries to remember those who are no longer on this earth. In Europe there was a tradition of baking “soul cakes.” Children would go and beg door-to-door for these cakes in exchange for praying for the faithfully departed family and friends. It is also believed that it was a tradition to wear “disguises” while “souling” for cakes to represent the souls in purgatory. And, there were processional candles carried in hollowed out turnips to be sheltered from the wind, which would become our Jack O’Lanterns!

In France a “dance of the dead” or danse macabre was established and took place on All Souls Day. People would put on costumes and act out leading a chain of individuals to the afterlife. In Ireland an “All Damned Day” was established on October 31st. They believed that if the “souls in hell are left out when we celebrated those in heaven and purgatory, they might be unhappy enough to cause trouble.” So, the Irish peasants banged pots and pans to make sure those in Hell knew they were not forgotten.

All these traditions and customs were mashed together when immigrants began settling in the United States, and throughout the 20th century the way we celebrate Halloween today came about! And although we celebrate by decorating pumpkins and wearing costumes, we are reminded on All Souls Day to pray for the souls in purgatory. See you at the Holy Day Mass: Vigil Mass on October 31, 5:30pPM at Holy Cross or on November 1st at 8:00 AM or 6:30 PM at St. Mary!

September 23, 2018

By now most families with young children and teenagers are well into the hustle that the new school year brings. It can be very challenging to accomplish everything in a week. We only get 168 hours in a week, 24 in a day—no more, no less. Making it to everything on the calendar while maintaining a home for your family is hard and leaves many parents running around with coffee in hand trying to be in two places at once and rarely seeing each other. Me and My House live by the calendar. There is one on the wall and one on everyone’s devices, so we can all be in sync. But sometimes, just knowing what’s coming up isn’t enough to juggle it all. Here are some great tips to help balance your world. 

    · Don’t mistake something urgent for something important: Family time is important, as well as kids sports and SLEEP. But sometimes we have things come up like a phone call that needs to be made for work, or returning emails, a meeting etc. Extra sports practices for kids are great and will help them improve, but repeat after me: Is my child going to grow up to be an Olympian athlete, go to the World Cup or the NFL? The extra work stuff, extra sports practices are urgent things that end up taking over the important things. Re-evaluate your priorities and choose to make certain days or times a priority for the important things, not the urgent things. 

    · Stop putting so much credit into what others think of you: Do any of you have trouble with the word no? I know I do! Sometimes we take on too much because we just can’t tell someone no. It’s okay to want to please people but not to the point where you are cutting out the important things. It’s okay to let some people down. 

    · Personal agenda vs. a family agenda: We all how our own personal agenda, the things we have going on. For a parent it could be work, volunteer activities, attending kids’ activities etc. For kids it could be school work, sports, a part time job. And even if that calendar on the wall shows everything we all must do, there is still something missing. Try sitting down as a family at the beginning of the week and talk about your schedules and see if you can make more time to spend to together.


Let’s recap! Take time for the important things and don’t prioritize urgent things over important things. Say no to some good things so you can have time for better things. We are not here to please everyone else. Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.”


And on that note, see you at Mass. Do not let other things rival God in your life. Sports, work and sleeping in on Sundays are things that can often be held in higher esteem than going to Mass. We owe God this weekly obligation and have been invited to partake is something everlasting—this is on the important list.


I look forward to hearing from you! The intention of ‘Thoughts from Me & My House’ is to be a collaborative column within our parish. Email me at joshua2415smhc@gmail.com with any thoughts, ideas, and opinions you have!


Sept. 9, 2018

The Religious Education year is right around the corner. We have wonderful faith formation programs here at SMHC and here are 5 benefits to sending your children to RE classes.

     · Sometimes it’s difficult for children to understand what is happening at Mass. RE can help them to understand what is going on at Mass and in the Church in a fun way that is specific to their age and level of understanding.

     · Our Parish is made up of so many communities and school systems. The kids get to come and see friends who they may not see otherwise, not to mention they get to meet in a positive and loving environment!

     · Growing closer to God is never a bad thing. The earlier in life the bond with God is formed the better. When a person develops that connection young, it is likely to last a lifetime.

     · Parents are the first Catechists in their child’s life, but there is so much to know about the Catholic Church and our faith—it can seem daunting. But, you are not alone. Your Parish is here to help!

    · And the best part?? It’s FUN! Just stop by on a Wednesday evening to see all the smiling faces. The kids and the Catechists are excited to be here. Parents are ALWAYS welcome to come on in and check it out, so don’t hesitate.

I look forward to hearing from you! The intention of ‘Thoughts from Me & My House’ is to be a collaborative column within our parish. Email me at joshua2415smhc@gmail.com with any thoughts, ideas, and opinions you have!


August 12 & 19, 2018

In Matthew 28: 18-20 it is said “Then Jesus approached and said to them, ‘All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 

teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.’”

The Great Commission. It is specific instruction from Jesus Christ to turn our faith into action. Christianity is a personal encounter with Jesus. To turn faith into action, we must first cultivate our relationship with Jesus. The fact is that many people simply have not experienced this personal encounter with Christ. Many of us go through the motions, we receive the Sacraments and go to Mass, but we are still missing out on the friendship we are meant to have with Jesus. Sometimes we are just waiting for God to do something dramatic in our lives, like waiting for an

 “A-HA” moment. But, that’s not how God typically works. Here are just a few tips that can help you to pursue your own personal connection with Christ.

Listen and don’t be afraid of silence. A relationship with God is much like a marriage. Most of us know where pretending to listen or being impatient with our spouse will get us. And it will get us just as far with our faith. Invest your time and focus on listening.

Be humble and honest—and not just with others. Many people lie and tell “almost truths” about who we are and what our intentions may be. Sometimes it seems harmless or it’s done without even noticing. I know you’re probably thinking, no that’s not me. I am an honest person. But I am talking about being honest with yourself. Realizing and admitting your own motives behind your actions can be more difficult than you think. An honest mind is a clear mind, and a clear mind is ready to listen.

Pray. There is no right or wrong way to pray. You can write in a journal, listen to music, or even meditate. You can make it a habit by praying while you brush your teeth, waking up or going to sleep, when you pass by an object in your house or at work. There are so many ways to pray!

Read Scripture. This is the best way to listen. The Bible is a big book, but there are many ways to begin it! You can focus on the readings of the day. They can be found on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website: www.usccb.org under the Bible tab. If you would like to begin reading the Bible itself, it’s good to begin with the Gospels and then go back and read the Old Testament. It’s a great way to make connections between the prophecies foretold about Christ. Maybe you don’t want to tackle the Bible right now, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Georges Bernanos are just a few authors who have many intelligent writings to cultivate a relationship with Christ.

The Sacraments. Celebrate the sacraments as often as you can. Penance and the Eucharist are so important. God literally makes himself available to us through these, so why wouldn’t we take advantage of the opportunity?

The first step to acting on your faith is to make sure that you have a genuine friendship with Christ. It’s so easy and he’s a friend that will never turn us away—why not start today?


I look forward to hearing from you! The intention of ‘Thoughts from Me & My House’ is to be a collaborative column within our parish. Email me at joshua2415smhc@gmail.com with any thoughts, ideas, and opinions you have!


July 29 & August 5, 2018


“The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.”    Mark 12:31


There is no question that summer in Iowa has been challenging this year. We have seen everything from torrential downpours, and flooding to tornadoes. Our own St. Mary Church and rectory have seen major damage from the water. Just when many folks were getting back to life as usual after flooding in June, tornadoes came along last week to remind us that it wasn’t time to relax just yet.


With flooding in June, an overwhelming amount of people stepped up to help others. Damage to homes due to flooding is not typically covered by homeowner’s insurance and sitting there just watching the water come in and not being able to do anything to stop it is heart wrenching. Community sandbagging became almost a daily occurrence in some places. Cities were quick to set up relief sites and immediate pickup of damaged items from the curb. People walked the streets coming to the aid of others whether it be pulling carpet from a basement or just someone to talk to for a few minutes.


On Thursday, July 19, 2018 tornadoes ripped through Bondurant, Marshalltown, and Pella. Property damage was substantial to all three communities, with Marshalltown seeing the worst of it. The average lead time for a tornado warning is about 13 minutes. Bondurant received 60 seconds lead time, Marshalltown was 17 minutes and Pella was 30 minutes. Even with any lead time, it’s hard to prepare yourself for a natural disaster of any type. The uncertainty of loss of property, or worse—life, can be immense and it’s easy for fear to take over.


As these communities emerged from their shelters to see the damage that had taken place, the helplessness began to set in again, but not for long. My family and I set out that evening to see where our help was needed, and we saw more than we ever thought we would. The damage was indescribable. But seeing the support from others was powerful. There were hundreds of people cleaning up damage less than 30 minutes after the sirens stopped wailing. First responders from so many communities came rushing in. We saw people walking around with arm loads of pizza boxes handing out dinner. And even though it was hard to believe, there was no loss of life.


Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor...” He said to love God and everyone else and nothing was greater than these commandments. There is always hope and joy to be found amid tragedy. It’s very easy to think that humanity is in decline. The goodness of people isn’t typically as newsworthy as the evil is. But, after all that we have suffered locally in the last month, I beg to differ. I have seen humanity at its finest and in action.


Tell me your stories! How have you seen some “love thy neighbor” in action? Let’s celebrate the kindness of our every day heroes! 

Email Me & My House at joshua2415smhc@gmail.com. 

July 15 & 22, 2018

“The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.” – Arnold Bennett

How many times have you ever heard, “I’ll start on Monday.” Whether it be changing something about your life, starting something new, ending something, we often say we will start on Monday. It seems through the evolution of the workweek, we have forgotten that Sunday is the first day of the new week.

I was a “start Monday” person for a long time. It was only within the last few months that I realized there was a better way. Sunday is the beginning of the week and the best part is that I can start my week with Mass. We always hear that we should be listening to God, but how do we do that? It can be difficult to hear God. Our lives are so busy and so loud sometimes. I finally figured out the best way to hear what God was saying to me, and to turn my Mondays into Sundays!

I begin on Monday. I know, that seems like an ironic thing to do but hear me out? I look up the readings for the upcoming weekend and spend the week preparing myself by using the H.E.A.R. method. On Monday, I focus on the first reading. Wednesday is for the second reading and Friday is for the Gospel. I have a notebook that I write everything down in and follow the steps in this order.

H – His word. Record the verse.

E – Examine it. What did I observe about the verse? Write down 2-3 facts that I discovered as I looked more closely. These facts may answer some of the 5 “W’s” and “H” questions which I’ll cover below. And did I learn anything about God from this verse?

A – Apply it. How can I apply what I learned from this verse to my life? Is there a command to obey? A sin to confess? A promise I can claim? I write down my plan to live out this verse and the thoughts that God brought to my mind as I read it.

R – Respond in prayer. I write down my response to God, my prayer to him speaking to me from His word. Father thank you for…. Father please help….

Then I move on to the 5 “W’s” and “H”.

1) Who? Who is speaking? To whom are they speaking? Who is this verse about?

2) What? What is happening? What event/topic is discussed? What do I learn about the event? Topic? People? I look for key words, phrases, lists, comparisons and contrasts. What is the theme? I look for repeated words.

3) When? When does/will the event take place?

4) Why? Why does/will the event happen? Why is the topic mentioned?

5) How? How does/will the event unfold? How is the topic to be handled or made possible?

This method is not something I came up with myself, but by doing this I am better prepared to start my week and all of my “Monday starts” have much more meaning to me. Usually, whatever change I need to make comes out at some point through the week as I am listening to God. Go ahead! Give it a shot! And let me know how it works for you. 



6-17 & 24-18

Hello SMHC Parish,

Baseball, “The Great American Pastime”. A hot summer day at the ballpark is like heaven to many. As my family and I were sitting (in the air-conditioned bliss of our home) and watching the St. Louis Cardinals teach the San Diego Padres a lesson, I began to ponder the similarities between love for Baseball and love for God.

The Roman Catholic Church can be traced back more than 2000 years. Throughout that time, it’s been met with love, loyalty, faith, hate discrimination, wars, and poverty. Yet its pillars stand tall and it continues to be a stronghold of solace and hope for its 1.1 billion members and countless communities worldwide. Baseball, although not quite 2000 years old has stood the test of time. The first recorded game in New Jersey was in June of 1846 where the New York Nine defeated the Knickerbockers 23-1. Baseball has been a comfort to our Nation during many wars, national hardships, and times of peace and prosperity.

Home, that’s what Church feels like to me. The Bible says, “And the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7.  Baseball is all about coming home and finishing where you began: home plate.

The Church has St. Peter, Mother Teresa, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Therese of Lisieux. Baseball has Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds and Jackie Robinson. Baseball even has its suffering servant, the Chicago Cubs. And even if there were nothing else to compare, there is hope and love, sins, and redemption.

“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.” Bob Feller.

Me & My House


6-3 & 10-18

Hello SMHC Parish,

Just in case you missed the introduction of Thoughts from Me & My House in the bulletin in April, here it is again! It is a new column in our bulletin and will be updated bi-weekly. Sometimes this will be an insert or on one of the bulletin pages, depending on the length. It is designed to give ideas, advice, and provide local and worldwide Catholic news. We are looking for fun and creative ways to engage as many people of our Parish as possible. If you have an idea, question, or response: please send an email to joshua2415smhc@gmail.com.  We want to hear from you!  

Vacation Bible School is coming to our Parish from June 18th to the 21st for current preschoolers through 4th grade. “Shipwrecked: Rescued By Jesus” VBS is sure to be a hit this summer! There are so many different summer camps for kids to choose from and VBS has the best of all worlds. Not too long, not too short and packed full activities! How do we love VBS? Let’s count the ways! 

1)  FOOD: No one can deny that with each year of VBS, the food gets more delicious and fun! Our kitchen volunteers under the guidance of Lisa Kautza are sure to please the crowd!

2)  MUSIC: Who doesn’t love to sing and dance? VBS is full of fun music and dances to go along with it, don’t forget to ask your kids to show you their moves!

3)  CRAFTS: Handmade is the best, and all the kids will be buzzing to show you what they’ve made!

4)  FUN: Object lessons to challenge the imagination and keep those hands busy!

5)  FAITH: Add time for the Bible and God to all the fun, and VBS is complete!

What makes VBS even MORE fantastic? Volunteers! The names and faces you see all the time, and the new ones that come each year! Don’t worry if your child is older than 4th grade, there are many opportunities to help. Contact Stacie Hergenreter to register or with any questions you may have. Hope to see you there! 


Change is inevitable. Both welcome and unwelcome changes shape who we are and where we are to go. The Catholic Church is no stranger to changes. Some have been drastic and quick, others slow and steady. 


Think about Vatican II. It was a shock to many when Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, which sought to renew and revitalize many aspects of the Catholic Church. Some have welcomed and encouraged it, while others have reacted with confusion and worry about the direction Catholics were to go. 

Changes are coming again. It doesn’t take much more than the evening news to see it. Pope Francis has said, “We are not living in an era of change, but a change of era.” The line between the critics of Pope Francis and his adversaries is thin, but his stance on Pastoral change seems to be moving in the same direction our society is.  The challenges that we face today are very different than they have been in the past. In 60 years will we be talking about today the same way we talk about Vatican II? 

The age of technology is upon us. The latest news is a notification away on our handheld devices. Social media is constantly pushing and pulling our attention. This can be seen in different lights. On one hand, the access that we have now is vast and it’s easy to educate ourselves and stay in touch with what is happening all around us. On the other hand, is this a threat to the family unit? Kids are not just learning from their parents and teachers anymore, but from everything they see on the screen. People of all ages can be swayed by a piece of false information on the internet. Our country is at a point of distress and separation, and the headlines being pushed to everyone instantly don’t seem to be helping. “The internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” – Bill Gates

Is there a way to embrace the change and make it work to help our future generations? Families are much busier now than they ever used to be. We can’t just rely on Catechists to teach our youth, there is a vast pool of information online that is available at the click of a button. Hey Google….

Closer to home, our own Parish can see the effects of the change of era we are facing. Our pews are not so full on Sundays. The traditions that shaped the Baby Boomers and Generation X are changing. Many children come to religious education classes but that is the extent of their involvement in the Church. This can work for a while, but eventually not just the programs, but the whole community will suffer.

How do we respond? How do we move into a modern era that embraces the family unit of today and keeps our Parish moving? What are YOUR ideas SMHC? Child care during Mass? Different Mass times or days? What are your thoughts on filling up the pews? What are YOU seeking from our Parish? Joshua 2415 wants to hear from you!

~ Joshua2415smhc@gmail.com 


Hello SMHC Parish.  Joshua 2415 here for your entertainment, support, and pleasure! Summer is quickly approaching. Religious Education classes have either ended or will soon. The business of church activities is slowing down and making way for a busy summer. Vacation time is here. Summer sports have begun, and we are all looking forward to long days on the ball fields. The weather is nice, the days are longer. With the longer daylight hours, we often try to fit even more into our schedules than we do the rest of the year. Where will the church fit into your crazy summer schedule?


Saint Mary – Holy Cross Parish is looking for new (and tried and true) ways to keep our Parish thriving! As said in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.”


What you would like to see more of? Summer Bible studies for the whole family? Have an idea for a small group of any kind? Summer youth group ideas? Picnics, BBQ’s, Ice Cream Sundaes, or kickball after Mass?  


Tell me how your family fits church into your busy summer schedule.


~ Joshua2415smhc@gmail.com