June 16 & 23, 2019

 

Hello, I hope everyone is enjoying the warm weather.  VBS is this week and is a great opportunity to welcome our new RE Co-Directors.


It’s been a pretty busy summer break at our house so far. Every time I think things will slow down a bit, it never seems to work out that way. There are always high hopes of relaxation in the sunlight and somehow, it’s thwarted by outdoor projects, summer sports or lessons. I am starting to find out that quality time together doesn’t come as easily as it should.


This past Mother’s Day my youngest son filled out one of those “All About Mom” pages. You know the one. How old is your mom? 167 years old of course! What’s your mom’s favorite food? Macaroni & Cheese which just so happens to be his favorite food. And what’s your mom’s favorite thing to do? He answered: work. I didn’t feel like I worked that much but in the eyes of my 5-year-old, it’s one of my preferred pastimes.


Just a few weeks later we brought two sweet little boys to live in our home through emergency kinship care. We received a call and had only a few hours to make the decision. Within 24 hours they were with us. They are 1 and 2 years old. We thought having one adventurous, high energy filled little boy was hard; having three exactly alike and at the same time has been challenging.


Just a few days ago we took a long walk to a new park we hadn’t visited before. We had spent most of the day inside doing housework and had three little boys itching to release some energy. So, what better way to get them ready for bed than to let them run and climb for a few hours? While we were watching them play, I began to think about how quickly our lives had changed. Instead of scheduling time together, we have to block off time to get work done. Keeping three boys aged 5 and under entertained while simultaneously providing mind stimulating experiences daily isn’t easy. Especially when we went from a 6 member to an 8 member family basically overnight. I used to go to bed sometimes feeling a little guilty because I spent the entire day working and missed out on some family time. Now, I go to bed wondering if I will have enough time the next day to get all my work done. The difference is that I don’t feel guilty about it. The work will still be there tomorrow. But seeing the look of accomplishment on my son’s face after climbing a rock wall may not happen tomorrow.


The boys haven’t been with us for long, but I am already beginning to see the benefits our family will gain from having them with us. Playing more and working less is the one I will value most. Most adults will tell you that their most cherished memories from childhood are the ones that were spent with people, not receiving an expensive gift because of all their parents hard work. And if you ask them if quality time is the most important, they will say, yes of course!! But how many people live by that rule? I challenge you to count your hours of awake time for one week. How many hours are spent working your job, doing housework, yard work, or extra projects for other people? And how many hours are spent doing things you don’t have to do and spending quality time with your loved ones? It may surprise you. At the end of my life I don’t want someone to talk about how hard I worked; I want them to remember how hard I loved.


With this being Father’s Day, I cannot say it enough. Spoil each other with presence instead of presents. Happy Father’s Day from Me and My House!

  Email joshua2415smhc@gmail.com with any thoughts, ideas, and opinions you have.



May 19 & 26, 2019


Spring has finally sprung! We’ve had a few days of actual May weather and it feels better than I ever thought it would. Have you ever watched something grow in the spring? I am always amazed each year at how quickly the trees and flowers grow. Nature is truly amazing and resilient.

 

When is the last time you thought about self care? We had a long Winter and Spring is a wonderful time to commit or recommit to something. Go outside and take a deep breath and think about things that bring you joy. Maybe it’s something creative like drawing, painting, or journaling. Get outside and go walking, hiking, biking or kayaking. Try something new or bring something old back. Whatever you decide, make sure that its something that makes you smile. Happy Spring!

 

Email joshua2415smhc@gmail.com with any thoughts, ideas, and opinions you have. 

May 5, 2019

 

In Matthew 18:20-22 it says: ‘“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”’


Have you ever noticed that we have a few more people join us in Mass throughout Lent? On Easter Sunday our attendance nearly doubles. Over the years I’ve heard a lot of different mumbles and grumbles regarding our friends the C & E Catholics (Christmas and Easter Catholics). I’ve even been guilty of some ill thoughts myself. Mostly when I have to sit in the Social Hall while the people who rarely attend Mass fill up the Sanctuary.


I began Easter day being a little annoyed thinking about all the extra people who would be at Mass. This actually drove the decision I made to skip Mass. I just didn’t feel like fighting the crowd. I had that guilty feeling in my gut. I was torn between feeling annoyed with the extra people at Mass and with myself for not being there. I started making excuses to myself. I went to every other Mass during Holy Week before Easter Sunday. Shouldn’t that make up for it somehow? But when I came across Matthew 18:20-22 my thoughts changed completely. It made me realize two very important things.


One: how could I ever be annoyed with the fact that our church is full of people gathering together in His name? This is a wonderful thing! Easter is for rejoicing and having an overflowing church is a truly awesome problem to have. Two: we are all sinners. Here I am thinking ill of someone who doesn’t attend Mass very often while I’m sitting at home not attending Mass. On Easter we are literally celebrating the man who died on a cross for our sins. And just a few weeks before that I read the line: “Am I like Jesus right now? Or am I like one of the Roman Soldiers?” I was acting more like one of the soldiers that morning.


It’s hard to be kind with your thoughts. Just because you didn’t say something bad about another person out loud, doesn’t mean that God can’t see and hear what’s in your heart and on your mind. I think that’s easy to forget, I know I do. People are sometimes very quick to form an opinion about others based on such trivial things. Maybe someone is doing something a little or even a lot different than how you would do it. This doesn’t mean they are doing it wrong. Having differences is something to celebrate. How boring would the world be if everyone was the same?


I believe that if you ask yourself, “Am I like Jesus right now?” Or “What would Jesus do?”, when making decisions or are tempted to pass judgement onto others-it will most generally lead you down a good path. Jesus looked for people who were different than him, on purpose. And then he went and hung out with them! I challenge you to do the same.


Happy Easter from Me & My House! 

 

April 21, 2019


We are at the end of my relationship series. We have talked about your relationship with God, yourself, that special someone, and your children. I am not an expert on the prescribed order of relationships or what they should consist of. I can only tell you what has helped and what has been a complete train wreck in my own life. While I am talking about friendships last, that doesn’t mean that they should be put on the back burner. Having real friends is so important. Let’s talk about it! 


Relationships             Part 6: Friendships

 

Aristotle had the best descriptions of friendships, in my opinion. He talked about there being 3 types of friendships in our lives: having friends of pleasure, utility and goodwill. When we are young, we tend to lead our lives by our emotions so it’s no surprise that we look for friends who give us pleasure of some sort. We tend to look for things that matter to us “in the moment” and don’t really have good sight of the bigger picture. Remember your best friends from middle school or high school? The ones you thought would last forever. I had a friend when I was young, and we were inseparable for at least 4 years. But even though we continued to live in the same town and go to the same school our friendship fizzled out. We grew older, our interests and the things that pleased us changed. It can hurt at the time, but I can look back now and be thankful for that relationship while it lasted.

 

The next kind of friendship is one of utility or one that is useful. Think about high school and the extracurricular activities. Maybe during the fall, you had one group of friends and then it changed as the year went on because of whatever sport or activity you were involved in next. Or maybe friends that you make in college because you’re both in the same class and can study together. A roommate because you both need each other to be able to live comfortably. This kind of friendship often comes from necessity and sometimes, they aren’t even pleasurable relationships. In fact, many times they are forced friendships that end up draining you in the end. This is not to say that you are intentionally trying to use someone, or that these friendships cannot turn into a greater one-but generally they don’t last. Think about your friendships with the people you work with. I worked in the same office for 10 years. After a major life event I left that office and that field completely. Since we have social media, we can stay in touch, but these are people I saw more than my family each week for 10 years. We knew each other very well. We shared life celebrations and pains, but now 5 years later-we are nothing more than acquaintances. Aristotle described this as friendships for the old. A friendship that we gain some sort of profit from.

 

While friendships of pleasure and utility are not wrong, they can be shallow and fleeting. They have their time and place in our lives but are not built on something that lasts. The other type that he wrote about, a friendship of good and virtue can stand the test of time. He explains that “To be friends, therefore, men must feel goodwill for each other, that is, wish each other’s good, and be aware of each other’s goodwill, and the cause of their goodwill must be one of the lovable qualities mentioned above.” Basically, this is the best kind of friendship to have. It’s not just about what interests you have at the time, where you work, or having kids in the same school. A true and lasting friendship is built on loving each other for the other persons sake, not your own.

 

How many friendships of goodwill do you have? You may feel like you have a lot of friends, you are not lonely or are lacking “having a life”. Like I said before, every type of friendship can be good even if they are for pleasure or utility. But having a good friendship that will last for a lifetime is important to your health and well-being. If you find yourself in a place where you do feel lonely or lacking, begin to seek others with the same moral standards as yourself. That is where you will find the truest and most lasting friendship there is to have.  


April 7, 2019


First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes…

 

Relationships                       Part 5: Children


I have often said that raising children is the single most wonderful and terrifying thing I’ll ever do in my entire life. Since there is no manual that comes with the tiny humans, what I offer are my thoughts based on the experiences I’ve had. Sometimes it’s easy, other times I feel like a complete failure. My children are all so different from each other with varying strengths and abilities. But even with their contrasting personalities, there is still one way that I can parent them all equally. The best advice I could ever give is that children deserve the same respect that adults. An environment of respect fosters love and mutual understanding. And in my opinion love, respect and understanding are the best qualities of any relationship.

 

Say it with me: children are people too. They are going to act inappropriately often, because they just don’t have the experience adults have yet. They don’t really like to be told what to do, so sometimes they are going to protest. They are going to get upset, act out, and make mistakes. But they should be treated like any person, with respect.

 

At our house we focus on communication and collaborative problem solving. The fact is that if they are having a hard time doing something they may behave in an unsavory way. But there is likely a problem that’s causing their difficulties. And problems can be solved. Solve the problem and you stop the unsavory behavior from happening at all. We do this by sitting down and talking about the struggles. Then we help each other come up with a solution that meets everyone’s concerns, the parents and the children. This works the same with all ages. If a 3-year-old is throwing a tantrum, there is likely a reason why. Find the reason, eliminate the tantrum. Are they hungry or tired? Do they have a hard time going into a store because they become over stimulated? Do they find it difficult to transition from one thing to another? We have that issue at our house, so I give a 5-minute warning and set a timer that goes off when it’s time to move on to the next task. I find that when they are younger it’s also easier to do thumbs up or thumbs down to yes or no questions rather than trying to have sit down conversations.

 

If one of my older children are failing a class, we figure out why by asking as many questions as necessary to get to the bottom of what’s causing the problem. Maybe he doesn’t like to write and there is a lot of writing to do for this class. So, how do we solve that problem? Not with 2 weeks of being grounded. That is not likely to change the fact that he doesn’t like to write. Together, we can come up with a plan to solve the problem and make the class easier for him.

 

There are exceptions of course, we have our non-negotiables and we still have to handle each of our children a little differently. But since we began using this method not only have our relationships grown stronger and deeper, we are all happy more often than not. And of all the things I want for my children, their happiness is at the top of the list. It may not be the best way to parent, but it’s certainly not the worst. I cannot take credit for it either. I can only attest to the fact that it works really well. If you would like to learn more about this method, pick up a copy of The Explosive Child by Dr. Ross Greene (even if you don’t have an explosive child). Or check out livesinthebalance.org. It has done wonders for the parent-child relationships in our house. No matter what don’t forget that it’s the hardest job on the planet and there is no instruction manual. You will have bad days so cut yourself some slack, and don’t forget to celebrate the good days!


March 24, 2019

Hello From Me & My House!

 

“I love you. I don’t always like you but, I’ll always love you.” This is a favorite line at our house. It reminds us that in our marriage we are called to love each other and it’s something we choose to do everyday. It’s also a good reminder that our relationship will never be perfect. We are committed to being fully present to each other for the rest of our lives. When something great happens and when something not so great happens—we call each other first. We must be able to step outside of ourselves and be the one the other goes to for everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. 

Relationships Part 4: Marriage

 

Have you ever heard of the “honeymoon period”? This is a real thing. It’s the period at the beginning of a relationship where things are really exciting. You spend a lot of time trying to impress the other person and they do the same for you. You are learning what they like and don’t like. You are little more patient and accepting of differences. This period leads up to a wedding. It can be stressful planning a wedding, but the day is truly magical. It brings back all those feelings that you had when you first realized you were in love. Then with the newness of marriage comes the second honeymoon period but it doesn’t last long.

 

Marriage can get boring. Every day isn’t a romantic walk on the beach or a celebration of your love. And on top of this, it can be hard. There isn’t much that can prepare you for what it’s like to live every single day with someone else, manage your finances with someone else, and raise a family with someone else. You have your own way of doing things and to compromise and do it someone else’s way may not be easy. You wake up, go to work, come home, go to sleep and do it all over again the next day. This is it. This is where being married becomes mundane. But don’t worry you don’t have to look far to find beauty in everyday things.

 

One of the best ways to keep the flame burning is to be mindful of each other. A smile and a kiss can be a game changer after a hard time at work. Cleaning up after dinner can feel lifesaving after an exhausting day. A few words of affirmation can change your mood in an instant: I love you, I appreciate you, thank you for… etc. In the same way, unkind words can change a mood just as quickly. You know the person you married better than anyone else. This means that you know exactly how to make them happy, and how to make them feel their worst. Part of marriage is remembering that we are called to build each other up, not break each other down.

 

Make time to cultivate your marriage. Leave the work and every day things behind often to enjoy each other alone. Go on vacations together, take day trips, go shopping together. Can’t leave the house? Have a date night at home. Set the table for dinner and watch a movie or play a game after. The mistake that many couples make is focusing all their time and attention on their children and/or careers. One day the children will begin their own families and retirement will come. Eventually your relationship will circle back to where it began: just the two of you. It can either be blissful for you both or it can be so distant that you must get to know each other all over again. The most important thing to realize is that your marriage is only as good as you make it. The odds will be in your favor if you choose to see the beauty instead of the mess and when you remember as often as possible, the love that started it all. 

 

March 10, 2019

Hello From Me & My House!  Lent is upon us! I am taking a break from the relationship series to talk about this wonderful time of year! Why am I calling a time of penance and self-sacrificing wonderful you ask? I’ll get to that. First let’s talk about some ways that you can observe Lent that don’t have to do with giving up chocolate, caffeine or junk food.

Giving up an unhealthy food or habit is not a bad thing, but how meaningful is it to you? “We must be careful not to practice a formal fast, or one which in truth ‘satisfies’ us because it makes us feel good about ourselves. Fasting makes sense if it questions our security, and if it also leads to some benefit for others, if it helps us to cultivate the style of the Good Samaritan, who bends down to his brother in need and takes care of him.” Pope Francis, Homily March 5, 2014. 


Here are 10 great ideas for Lent!

1) Do something that’s not easy. This could be anything from an exercise routine or activity to having a conversation with someone.

2) Replace 30 minutes of time spent on electronics with 30 minutes of prayer. You’d be surprised how much time the average person spends on a phone, tablet, computer or watching TV each day.

3) Do not complain. You never realize how much you make small complaints or whine about things until you intentionally try not to. “Do all things without grumbling or questioning…” Philippians 2:14

4) Say 3 nice things to your spouse and kids daily. This might seem easy, but try to not count normal things like: thanks, good job or you look nice.

5) No gossip. If someone says something bad about another person just don’t say anything at all.

6) Do one thing each day that you don’t want to do, for the sake of another. This could be extra chores at home, or helping a friend at work or school with a task they need to complete.

7) Take part in the sacraments. What better time is there to grow closer to Jesus through the sacraments than during Lent? Don’t skip Mass, try going to reconciliation.

8) Don’t go out to eat for 40 days.

9) Consider going through your house and donating things that you don’t use or wear.

10) Delete some time sucking apps from your phone.

Don’t forget about prayer and almsgiving. It’s through this that we can grow deeper in our relationship with Christ and become more used to freely giving. Lent should be a somber and quiet time. Take your Lenten journey offline. Remember, we are not to be like the Pharisees. It’s not supposed to be fun, and if it’s not a little painful then you’re not doing it right. It is through suffering that we can become closest to Jesus, so take this opportunity to do just that. From Me & My House to yours, make Lent wonderful this year SMHC! 


February 24, 2019

Hello Again From Me & My House!  I hope you are surviving this Midwest winter at its finest. Think happy thoughts…Spring!! So far in the relationship series I’ve talked about your relationship with God and your relationship with yourself. This week I’ll be talking about the relationship that is next on my list: finding that special someone!


Relationships Part 3: Finding Love

    I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on love but most of us become a bit wiser with age and experience, so I feel like I’ve learned enough to share some thoughts on the subject. Falling in love with someone is an experience that most people never forget. But, how do you know when you’ve found the “one”?

    Many people have claimed to know the secret to finding that special someone. There are countless books, magazine and online articles with lists of attributes and feelings that you can check off to show you that you have found your soulmate. But I’ll save you a lot of time and let you know the real secret. You don’t know when you’ve found them. It’s like taking a giant leap of faith because you’re saying, “I really love the person you are today, and I have faith that in 40 years I will still love the person that you are.” I hate to burst your bubble, but there is no sure way to know that you’ve chosen the right person to spend your life with. But I do have some tips for you if you’re discerning the next step. Maybe you’re already married. That’s okay, we can all use a reminder every now and again!

    When you decide to love someone, you love everything about them—even their flaws. We all yearn for a selfless kind of love. At the end of a really bad day, can you put your feelings aside to give attention to the person you love? Will they do that for you? Take 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and insert the name of the person you love in place of the word “love” in the verses. For example, “John is patient, John is kind… John does not seek his own interests, is not quick tempered.” and so on. If you can answer yes to all of these—you may have just found the one!

    There is work involved as well. We aren’t all used to being loved in the same way. Sometimes it can take you out of your comfort zone to learn to love someone the way they want to be loved. Maybe you really need to hear words of affirmation and they really need to be showered with gifts to feel loved. Are you compatible? Do you have the same morals and values? Do you see eye to eye? Can you compromise when your opinions differ from each other? Can you talk about the hard stuff right along with the easy stuff? This is where the work comes in. To be able to love someone for better or for worse is not as easy as you would think.

    Loving someone is a selfless act. You are going outside of yourself and giving yourself to another human being. It’s something that cannot be taken for granted and must be freely given as well as received. It’s choice that must be made, to love someone on their good and bad days. You may have to love them in a way that you aren’t used to being loved. But when you find them, magic can happen. Being in love brings out the best in you and can have a powerful affect on your life and others around you. Have you found your special someone? Are you still looking? Rest easy, if there is one thing, I’ve learned in my years on this earth it’s that everything happens in the exact order it’s supposed to happen—and usually when you least expect it!

 

Email joshua2415smhc@gmail.com with any thoughts, ideas, and opinions you have.   

 

February 10, 2019

Greetings from Me & My House!  This week I will be continuing on with the second part of the Relationship Series. Last time I talked about the relationship you have with Jesus being the number ONE priority in your life. No matter who you are, what journey you are on, or what season of life you are in: your relationship with God has to come first. But who should be the next priority?


Relationships Part 2: Yourself

In Matthew 22:39 we hear “…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus made it very clear that to love God was the greatest commandment and then followed it with this as next most important. We are called to care for the vulnerable, the weak, the sick and the poor. We are called to listen with a compassionate ear and accept others with a kind heart. These are all very important things, no doubt about it!

The thing is, Jesus did not just command us to love others but to love ourselves as well. How much do you really love yourself? Think about that for just a few minutes. When you are sick, do you take the time to rest and get better? When you are hurting do you have someone that will lend you that compassionate ear? How often do you do the things that you love to do? How high are your expectations for yourself? How often do you just rest? And no… I’m not talking about sleeping.


Remember when I said you can’t pour from an empty cup? Well you can, but after a while that is exactly what will consume you: emptiness. People today are busier than ever! Maybe you have to work more than one job just to make ends meet. In college you have to go to school all day and work all night. By the time you graduate, you may need 2 jobs to pay your student loans. If you are a parent you might spend many evenings and weekends running kids around to various activities. These are just a few examples, I could go on and on. Take all of these duties you have outside of your home and then add in the duties you have at home and it’s no wonder self care is put on the back burner.


Personally, I sat down a few months ago and started to wonder, why wasn’t I happy? I was so blessed and had so many things to be thankful for, yet it still felt like something was missing. When I came across Matthew 22:39, it hit me like a ton of bricks. If my expectations for other people were the same that I hold for myself, that would be an awful way to love anyone. If I didn’t allow other people to rest the same way that I don’t allow myself to rest, what kind of person would I be? If I don’t have someone to hear me when I need to let it all out, how could I truly listen to anyone else? How could I appreciate watching others do what they love if I wasn’t also doing things that I love to do? I had reached a point where I was the person I loved the least.


Loving yourself looks different for everyone. But, here is what it looks like for me so far. Going to bed a little earlier to get up and do some reading, writing, reflection and praying before the crazy day begins. This is my “me” time. I love to draw but haven’t for a while. So, I’ve started sketching while my kids are doing their activities. Sacrificing that healthy dinner with 30 ingredients for something a little less healthy but allows me more time to sit down and enjoy it with my family. I intentionally block time out of my day to do things that I want to do, for me. Once I began to hold myself to a standard of grace and not perfection, things started to change. My cup began to fill up, and now I am ready to show the world the kind of love that everyone deserves, even me.


What do you love to do for yourself?    Let me know at joshua2415smhc@gmail.com. 


January 28 & February 3, 2019

Greetings from Me & My House!  Two weeks ago, I talked about New Year’s Resolutions. I am twenty-something days into living by a standard of grace and not perfection. It’s much more difficult than I thought it would be. Really! It seems like it would be easy to stop trying to be perfect but once you spend years doing something a certain way, and then try to change it—it doesn’t just happen overnight. I’ve decided to make my changes in steps. Very small steps. And I’m going to take you all with me!


Relationships Part 1: God


Relationships are perhaps one of the most important aspects of our lives. Almost everything we are involved in requires us to have the ability to maintain relationships with a variety of people. Not only this, but as humans we crave them deeply. We are social by nature. So, it makes perfect sense to begin with a focus on relationships.


Most people know how important relationships are, but they do take work. There are many studies that talk about the importance of having deep and meaningful connections with others. Like anything else, we must make priorities with each relationship we have. If you’ve never heard the phrase, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” then I’m going to sum it up for you. Having a relationship with God is the frontline to every other relationship in your life. One of the best ways to “fill your own cup” is through a relationship with Christ.


The great news is that there is no perfect way to have a relationship with Jesus, there are some best practices though. Prayer is a great place to start. Remember that praying is different for everyone. You don’t have to do it a certain way or say a specific prayer. There are many people who do say specific prayers and do it at a certain time of the day because it helps them to build a routine and remember to do it as often as possible. Personally, I am fond of writing, so I have a journal that is specifically for praying. I write to God like I’m writing a letter to a friend. A good guide to follow when praying is A.C.T.S.--The Four Steps of Prayer. Adoration-Praise God, because without Him we wouldn’t be much. Confession-Humble yourself by confessing something that you need to work on within yourself. Thanksgiving-Give thanks to God for all the blessings in your life. Supplication-And intercession. What or who are your prayer intentions for today?


There is no better way to strengthen yourself with God than the Eucharist. It is literally the closest you can get to Christ. Jesus knows what it is to suffer more than anyone. When you are on your way up the aisle to celebrate the sacrament, think about everything weighing on your heart and ask Jesus to share the burden with you. When we gather for Mass our prayers are nothing but greater and more powerful. Go to Mass and bring your family. Parents are the first catechists for their children, show your children how important it is to take the sacrament of the Eucharist and to partake in Mass. Our church is your very own community in Christ, join it!


The most important thing is that your relationship with Christ is unique to you. It doesn’t have to be how others do it. It needs to feel right for you. It’s really hard to cultivate your relationships with the people in your life, if you aren’t intentional in your relationship with Christ. Go ahead and fill your cup with the love that God has for you. It’s time to get right with Jesus! Watch for the next installment on relationships in 2 weeks.

  

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! 

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. 

                                                                                                                  Joshua2415smhc@gmail.com

 

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

joshua2415smhc@gmail.com


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! 

5-20-18 

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 

4-29-18 

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