Browsing Tag

conversion

Catholicism

I Was About to Leave the Church Then THIS Happened

September 11, 2015

I arrived on campus planning to leave the Catholic Church. I’d become disillusioned with religion over the last few years, and now that I was out of Mom and Dad’s house, it was time to stop going to church.

Then I got a phone call.

Matt, from Catholic Campus Ministry wanted to get together. He got my number from a contact card I filled out (under Mom and Dad’s insistence) when we visited over the summer.

I wasn’t against the Church or God, I just didn’t care that much. Matt seemed nice enough, and I thought I’d be a jerk to say no to meeting, so we set a time to grab a bite.

We got together, and it turned out that Matt wasn’t some crazy religious nut. He was actually a pretty cool guy. After talking for a bit, Matt invited me to a new student event at the chapel. I had no reason to say no, so I said yes.

At the event, Matt introduced me to some other freshman guys. They were cool, friendly, stand-up dudes. These were guys I wanted to hang out with. They also happened to love Jesus.

I hung out with these guys, and they started rubbing off on me. They were all going on a retreat, so I did too. That retreat sealed the deal.

At that retreat I met 40 people who cared about me like nobody else I’d met yet on campus. These people had a joy that was unknown to me. I went to confession, (and laughed in it!) I prayed in Eucharistic adoration for the first time.

When I got back to campus, I joined Matt’s Bible study. I decided to spent more time with my Catholic friends. I attended daily Mass several times a week. Matt taught me how to pray. Before I knew it, I had a new way of looking at the world. I learned that God loved me, made me for a relationship with him, and became man and died to ensure I’d be able to enter into that relationship. Everything had changed.

And it never would have happened if Matt wouldn’t have called, if those other freshman guys didn’t welcome me in, if the Catholic Campus Ministry at George Mason University wouldn’t have made the decision to share the Gospel and evangelize the Campus. When we choose to leave our comfort zone and share Jesus, lives change. I know, because mine did.

Mission

The September My Life Changed

September 9, 2015

It was September 2003.

I was a itty bitty Freshman at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and had recently rushed Greek Life and became an Alpha Phi.

alpha phi

My pledge class

And that, my friends, is where the Lord changed my life.

WHAT?!?!

Who goes to college, joins a sorority, and THEN meets Jesus?

Me.

It definitely wasn’t part of my plan but it all makes sense looking back…

You see, I grew up Catholic and definitely knew a lot about God. There were even times where I would say I was close-ish to God. But a personal, intimate friendship day in and day out? Nada.

The Spring before college began, a speaker named Jason Evert came and spoke at my High School. He talked about chastity and Jesus. Something began to stir in me that day.  I was tired of going through the motions. I was tired of relationships that were superficial and shallow. I was tired of living for myself and needing to control my life.

I was just tired of living the way I’d been living for so long.

At the end of Jason’s talk when he offered for people to sign a commitment card pledging themselves to Jesus, I sprinted forward and signed the card. I didn’t know what giving your life to Jesus looked like but I wanted it.

Then, I remember praying and asking God to surround me with friends who knew and loved him…so that I could learn how to know and love him.

Back to September 2003. I joined Alpha Phi with the intention of making life-long friendships with my sorority sisters but little did I know that God would use them to answer my prayers in bigger ways.

Within one week of joining the house, I was given an invitation to join a bible study and attend a Greek fellowship on campus sponsored by a non-denominational ministry. I have no other way to describe what began to occur within me than to use the word transformation.

biblie study

My first bible study leader Danielle (Gamma Phi Beta) on the right.

Every time I opened the bible, it was as if the words were JUMPING off the pages at me. The scriptures were alive and I could feel the presence of Christ. I was hearing truth preached at the weekly Greek meeting and at Mass on Sundays. Truth I had absolutely been exposed to my ENTIRE LIFE but was deaf to. It was as if my ears were unplugged and I could finally hear what God had to say to me.

I was challenged to surrender myself to God. To accept that I indeed was a sinner. That I couldn’t save myself from my sin…only Jesus could.  I was challenged to give him my plans. My dreams. My hopes. My desires. And to follow him wherever he would call me.

And so I did.

On one hand I was experiencing more joy than I’d ever known. God was filling me to the brim with His presence and it was such an exciting ride. On the other hand, I was a freshman in college. The whole Jesus thing didn’t exactly jive with the Greek scene I was now part of. I felt torn often but God continued to fill me with peace. I was on the right path in following him and he provided me with strength to live for him.

That September I learned how to pray on a more intimate level than simply reciting learned prayers, as good as those prayers were. I dusted off my bible and began to study it. I found other Christians and experienced what authentic and deep friendships can look like. My mind, heart, and soul were renewed. My life completely transformed.

It’s been twelve years since I was that little spring chicken in college. So very much has changed…except the one thing I became sure of that September: I am a sinner in need of a Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the only one worth living for and the only true source of lasting peace, joy, and happiness in this world. And that will never change.

If you also would like to know him in a more intimate way, shoot me an email and we can talk more offline. I would love to help you encounter Him.

Adoption, Catholicism

God Spoke to Me and I Didn’t Believe Him

January 3, 2015

This story has been more or less kept to myself this past year.

It’s quite humbling, as it reveals my lack of faith or hope in God’s providence and His faithfulness despite my shortcomings. All the more reason I need to share it.

But there is a back story…that started 10 years ago. So come with me down memory lane and we will then find ourselves back at the story I need to tell you today….

January 2005 – FOCUS National Conference in Denver, CO

As a Sophomore in college, I accidentally ended up on the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) National Conference last minute due to someone else cancelling the night before. I knew two people going and was super nervous I would have a horrible weekend.

I was away from the Catholic faith at the time, since I was exploring with non-denominational ministries in the local area.

Until this conference.

There is way too much detail involved to share why this conference was a game changer in my faith but I am going to highlight the pivotal moment…

The Eucharist.

Don’t ask me how but I never really knew the Catholic Church taught that communion was ACTUALLY Jesus’ body, blood, soul, and divinity contained within bread.

Whoa.

I remember learning that’s what the church taught…then I wandered into this thing called Eucharistic Adoration. I prayed a simple prayer:

Jesus, if it’s REALLY you, I need to know. Like now. Because if it IS you, I have to be Catholic. If it’s NOT you, I need to stand up and yell “HERETICS!” and try to get as many people to leave the room with me as I can.

Ten years later I still can’t tell you what exactly happened in the moments that followed that prayer.

If I had spiritual goggles on, I predict I would have seen Jesus punching me in the stomach since I ended up on the floor. I was unable to handle the rush of His presence that hit me all at once. I was crying uncontrollably (which is so NOT like me, especially in public) and I recall hearing a non-audible voice say “It’s really me.” Then I was filled with the most peace I’ve ever known in my entire life and I knew I had to be Catholic.

How could I go anywhere but where Jesus was in the Eucharist? I couldn’t

That  moment was etched into my soul and I can’t erase it…even a decade later. I came back to the Catholic faith after that conference and haven’t left since.

In fact, FOCUS has had a conference every January since that first one…and I attended every single year. Call me crazy but every time I went to Eucharistic adoration at conference, God would speak to me in a very clear and specific way to provide insight, peace, or whatever I really needed to hear at the time. Sure, I felt like God spoke other times during the year but whatever was said in that January adoration at the FOCUS conferences was special.

It was like an anniversary gift.

January 2014 – FOCUS Student Leadership Summit in Dallas, TX

Another January (nine years later).

Another FOCUS conference.

Another Eucharistic adoration.

I was riding the struggle bus big time.

Infertility was hitting me hard. It was about that time that I did the Infertility Blog Series over at Hallelujah is My Song (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four). While it felt great to finally go public with our infertility battles, it was tremendously difficult. We were becoming the poster couple for infertility.

Ugh.

Needless to say, my mood was pretty somber and depressed at the FOCUS Student Leadership Summit.

That’s when weird things began to happen.

The day that Eucharistic adoration was going to occur, a couple asked us to have coffee with them. It was mostly work related but then they proceeded to tell us their entire adoption story involving their two kiddos. It was a breath of fresh air and left me with a new bounce in my step.

That afternoon Jonathan and I were really busy so we agreed to meet up for dinner to discuss adoption that evening.

We met for an Italian meal and while we began discussing adoption and if we wanted to go down that path, another family walked in and sat at the table across from us…with their son who came to them via the gift of adoption.

It’s not like there are very many adoptive families in FOCUS. This was all happening because God was up to something and I knew it.

Our dinner conversation went well and we agreed that in 2014 we would get the ball rolling on our adoption journey. We went our separate ways and planned to meet up later that evening.

A few hours later I arrived at adoration. I found my seat and was ready for whatever special grace God wanted to give me this year on our anniversary. Maybe it would be a moment of peace about infertility. Or a sense of conviction that He hadn’t forgotten about us.

Something.

Anything.

I was ready.

And then it came. I inaudibly heard clear as day, “By this time in adoration next year, you will be a mother.”

WHAT?!?!?!

My heart began to pound and I was overcome with emotion. I waffled back and forth – was this just my own mind making it up or was God actually speaking to me?!?!

I cried, hoping against hope that it wasn’t simply my desperation fueling what I heard in prayer.

On one hand, I knew it was God speaking to me. On the other, I was nervous to admit it to anyone…even to Jonathan or any spiritual director. I didn’t want to look like a fool just in case God’s promise to me was a puff of smoke made up by an emotional infertile woman.

I didn’t tell a single soul because I was afraid.

But then everything started happening this summer.

It looked like a stronger and stronger possibility that we would adopt in 2014. Could God’s promise to me have ACTUALLY been real? I decided to tell Jonathan and he could hardly believe I’d kept that secret to myself. And that I had spent the better part of a year stewing over if it was just me or if God actually made a promise to me instead of simply trusting.

January 2015 – FOCUS SEEK Conference in Nashville, TN

Tonight, Saturday January 3, 2015 I plan to hunker down in adoration. It will be my 10 year anniversary with Jesus and I will have Josephine Rose Teixeira in tow.

His promise was real. It wasn’t simply a mind game I played on myself.

I am a mother and I am forever grateful to God for this gift and opportunity.

I will likely spend some time crying before the Lord for the ways I doubted his promise this year. I had such little faith that He could change our situation…but He did it and in a mind blowing way.

Not only did it happen super fast but we fundraised nearly the entire cost.  We’ve had hundreds of cheer leaders along for the ride. I am still processing what the heck happened in the past five months.

It’s literally been a whirlwind of a story only God himself could write. We are blessed to be along for the ride and can’t wait to see how our family grows as the years go by.

Thanks for tagging along as I share this story and GIVE ALL GLORY TO GOD!!!

Mission

Lent is here!

February 13, 2013

 

[For the much better post relating all the exciting things Jonathan is working on for Lent with FOCUS this year (including an updated infographic, please see this post.]

 

Lent is a time for deepening conversion within our hearts. It’s a time we are reminded of what’s most important in this life. Some people choose to give up something, add something, or a combination of both.

I am proud of Jonathan for designing the chart below! Yes, it reminds us of some of the Lenten “rules” but please don’t see them as strictly rules, but as a means to grow in your relationship with Christ. They are designed to help us be intentional about our conversion, to create space in our hearts for the Lord. Let Him transform you this Lenten season. For more information on entering into Lent, check out this blog. 

[edit: info graphic has been updated to the new 2014 version.]

lent-infographic

Check out the rest of Lentsanity at focus.org/lentsanity.

Download the Lentsanity app by searching for Lentsanity in your app store, or visiting focus.org/lentsanityapp from your smartphone.