Tag Archives: marriage

Fortnight for Freedom: Witness to Marriage

Marriage.Fortnight for Freedom is a 14 day period leading up to the 4th of July where we take time to bring awareness to and pray for our religious freedoms.  It is a time to give thanks for the freedom we have, to pray for those who are persecuted for faith, and to pray that our own country will honor the religious freedoms that we hold so dear.  My parish takes part in this Fortnight for Freedom with a prayer service each year that incorporates speakers, song, and prayers for our religious liberties.  This is my first year participating and I was asked to speak on marriage.  I wanted to share with you my witness to marriage that I will be presenting this coming weekend:

The theme of this year’s Fortnight for Freedom is to “Bear Witness.”  I wanted to share today my own witness to marriage, what marriage means to me, and why it matters to begin with.

This July will be 4 years since my husband and I were married. When we were preparing to get married, plenty of people had advice on how to have a happy, successful marriage. Communication, compromise, making time for each other, and other things like that. Of course those things are great, but it’s something more that makes a marriage strong. I may only be married four years, but I look to the example of my husband’s parents who have been married 29 years, to my own parents who are celebrating their 30th anniversary in November, and to my grandparents who have been married over 60 years and I see one thing in common. They all had God at the center. It is God’s presence that makes a true marriage work.

Without God, there is no love.  God is love! We think we know what love is.  But one look at the cross reminds us that there is a love so deep we cannot begin to grasp it.  A love that created life. That sacrificed itself for us, even when we stubbornly refuse it.  The love of Christ is never-ending. Knowing that such a love exists, even while not fully understanding the depth of it, opens our eyes to the reality that we have so much to learn about love. We need Christ to show us how to love.  We need Him beside us in all aspects of life, in all our relationships, and definitely in our marriages.

Marriage is a gift from God. It is the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife. Marriage is more than the “next step” in a relationship. To me, marriage is a calling from God to live as husband and wife being open to whatever God has in store for us. It is not something to be defined or changed by us. It is a sacred and beautiful sacrament given to us by God.  Marriage is not just about the individual. It is about the unbreakable union between man and wife.  And for a marriage to remain strong in love, peace, and joy despite what life throws our way, that union must include Jesus.   With God at the center of our marriages, we may continue to grow in love for each other and for Him.

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Love Stories

The world is full of love stories. Fairytale love stories. Tragic love stories. Funny love stories. We read books about love stories. We watch movies featuring love stories. Most of our television shows include some sort of love story. From the snippets we read online about a particularly romantic engagement, to the photos of an extravagant wedding, to the touching stories of a man and wife by each other’s side through the most trying of situations until the very end.

hOn August 2 my little sister took a big step in her love story. Family and friends from all over came together to be a part of her and her new husband’s wedding day. It was a beautiful Mass full of reverence and love followed by a joyous celebration at the reception. She is an absolutely beautiful girl but looked even more beautiful than usual as she was filled with the joy of marrying the love of her life. All the planning and preparing paid off as the day was absolutely perfect and a wonderful time was had by all.

In the days following the wedding I have found myself reminiscing about my own wedding three years ago and thinking about weddings, marriage, and love.  A joyous marriage with Christ at the center of it presents one of the best love stories we can live out in our lives.  After all, the love that a husband and wife share carries with it respect, forgiveness, patience, and a lifelong commitment.  What could be better than that?

“The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white host.”  Archbishop Fulton Sheen

sacrament-of-holy-eucharistAll the love stories in the word, all the perfect wedding days and long lasting marriages and romantic engagements, cannot compare to the greatest love story of all: the love of God the Father shown to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.  We may not have been there at Calvary with the Lord.  But we are blessed to have the most precious gift of the Eucharist to receive our Lord and be filled with His love.

The love stories we write here on earth are only ever possible because of the greatest love story of them all.  Love is a wonderful gift given to us by the Lord.  The love between a man and wife through marriage is the human attempt to mirror the divine love of the Trinity.  Fully and freely giving of oneself to another as Christ fully gave of Himself to us.

We are called to share the love of the Lord.  With the love stories we take part in through marriage, family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers, we grow in love.  As we strengthen our own love stories, we find ourselves pulled deeper and deeper into the mystery of true love shown to us through Jesus Christ and made fully present to us in a reality far beyond our understanding in the Holy Eucharist: the greatest love story of them all.

Eucharist Image: http://www.family-prayer.org/sacrament-of-holy-eucharist.html

Helping God Out

urlDo you ever feel the need to help God along in His plan? Maybe we don’t say those exact words, but I think it’s something we all end up doing at one point or another. Sometimes it may be that we are called to pursue certain goals, work towards specific accomplishments, or follow a certain course of action. We believe that this is what God is calling us to do and so we do what we can on our end to work towards His will.

When we feel called by God to a certain direction in our lives, there is always something we can do to follow His call. But if we place the full responsibility and burden on ourselves, we become pulled down by the weight of it all and stressed out by trying to figure out and plan every little detail. We may become obsessed with how we feel we need to “help” God and lose sight of the fact that He already has is under control!

It has been almost two years that my husband and I have been trying for a baby and it has been a struggle emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Anyone who has dealt with infertility in any manner knows that there are tons of things you “should do”. Things to track, things to chart, things to eat or not eat, medicines to try, and so on. At the same time, the number one thing everyone tells you is “Don’t stress so much!” or “Just try not to think about it.” That can be frustrating to say the least. Especially when the act of daily charting, tracking, doctor’s appointments, medicines, and so on, makes it near impossible to take your mind off of it for even a little while.

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful man as my husband. As I thought about our marriage and our life together, I began to reevaluate my “plan.” I believe without a doubt that I am called to be a mother and I know in my heart that it will happen in God’s perfect timing. But before being called to motherhood, I was called to be a wife. On days when I feel frustrated at not fulfilling my call of motherhood, I need to remember that I am so blessed to be carrying out my vocation as a wife.

The second thing I thought of was how complicated it has all become. If I truly believe in my heart that God has called me to be a mother, why do I stress so about doing everything “just right” in order to make it happen? Do I feel the need to help God out? Do I doubt that He can do it on His own and requires me to meticulously plan each detail for Him? As much as my mind screams “No!” in answer to these questions, I know that my actions seem to state otherwise.

I have become so wrapped up in what I have to do to make this happen, that I have seemingly forgotten it is not up to me. All the charting, all the doctor’s visits, all the medicine in the world does not make a baby. God alone is the Creator of life. Despite what I may or may not do to “help out”, the truth of the matter is that I cannot control it. When it is God’s perfect timing, we will have our baby. But until then? I am resolved to stress less about what I need to do and to put it in His hands and trust more confidently in Him.

Of course there are things we can all do to follow God’s will for our lives. There are things I can do to help my body out as we prepare to have a family.  But in following His will, we need to be attentive to how He is calling us. Is He telling us to take a specific action? Or is He telling us that He has it under control and we need to trust? We need to remember that even though there are things we may be called to do and actions we must take as we follow the Lord, at the end of the day He is the one in control. He can do all things, and He doesn’t need our help to make them happen.

“Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;

-Psalm 37:4-7

 

Marriage Takes Three

What makes a marriage work?  And not just work, but truly thrive and grow stronger through the years?  Countless experts will say things like conversation, making time for each other, and compromise.  While those may be good suggestions, the truth is that in order to have the best marriage possible, it doesn’t take just one, it doesn’t take two, it takes three.

 “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

Without God, there is no love.  God is love!  Love is essential for a happy and healthy relationship.  Why else would you commit your life to someone if not for love?  Loving someone means putting their needs before your own.  It means making compromises and sacrifices at times.  Love can make you float in the clouds with light heartedness and joy.  But true love takes work, too.

We are merely human.  We think we know what love is.  But one look at the cross reminds us that there is a love so deep we cannot begin to grasp it.  A love that created life.  That sacrificed itself for us, even when we stubbornly refuse it.  The love of Christ is never-ending.

“For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

There is nothing we could do that would cause God to stop loving us.  Nothing that would separate us from his awesome and wondrous love.  Knowing that such a love exists, even while not fully understanding the depth of it, opens our eyes to the reality that we have so much tot learn about love. We need Christ to show us how to love.  We need Him beside us in all aspects of life, in our relationships, and definitely in our marriages.

Marriage is more than the “next step” in a relationship.  It is more than two people in love. Marriage is the lifelong commitment of love between husband and wife with God at the center of it all.  Marriage is not about “you” or “me.”   It is about “us.”  And for a marriage to remain strong in love, peace, and joy despite what life throws our way, that “us” must include Jesus.   With God at the center of our marriages, we may continue to grow in love for each other and for Him.

Marriage takes love, trust, faith, patience, and understanding.  It takes commitment and sacrifice.  It takes more than we can give on our own.  It takes husband, wife, and most importantly God.  Marriage takes three.

The Power of True Love

I love animation.  I love the beautiful artwork and intricate details that go into an animated film.  I love the way a drawing on a piece of paper or computer can come to life and tell a story.  And I love Disney.  It probably comes as no surprise, then, that I absolutely adore Disney’s newest animated film, “Frozen.”

The movie is everything you could want from Disney: stunning animation, heartfelt music, well-rounded and developed characters, laughs for kids and adults as well, and a wonderful message.  And while the music is still going through my head and the characters are not ones that will easily be forgotten, it is the message that sticks with me the most.  It is a message that is common in movies; the power of true love.  But what is unusual in “Frozen” is that it shows true love as not just romantic love, but places perhaps an even stronger emphasis on familial love.

There is one song called “Fixer Upper” that I particularly enjoyed because of its refreshing look at love.  The song starts as a comical look into the perceived flaws of two of the characters before the real message comes across:  Nobody is perfect, but true love is about looking past the little things and working together.  Take a look:

People make bad choices if they’re mad or scared or stressed
But throw a little love their way, and you’ll bring out their best
True love brings out the best

Everyone’s a bit of a fixer upper
That’s what it’s all about
Father, sister, brother
We need each other
To raise us up and round us out

In our society today, where marriage is often seen as a casual decision and quickly followed by divorce when any troubles arise, this message is quite welcome!  What makes it even better is that it takes the definition of true love and applies it within the family as well as within romantic relationships.

This song, this movie, is not talking about an idealistic love that is always perfect and easy.  Rather it is talking about actual true love. The true love that we read about in 1 Corinthians 13.  A love that is patient and kind instead of envious, boastful, or rude.  A love that doesn’t insist on its own way, is not irritable, and rejoices with the truth.  A love that always believes, hopes and endures.

Both the familial relationships and the romantic ones are put to the test in Disney’s “Frozen.”  But rather than become angry or bitter, this movie shows instead how true love means forgiveness, understanding, and looking past our flaws.  It shows how people can be misunderstood and sometimes just need to be shown what true love actually is.

It is a welcome message in our world today.  Sometimes families fight.  Sometimes couples argue.  Sometimes the differences between us seem too big and we are tempted to give up.   But true love does not give up.  Our Lord never gives up on us despite our mistakes.  If we wander away from Him, He still welcomes us back home and in fact rejoices in our return to Him! 

We are called as Christians to exhibit this same sort of love.  Forgiving, understanding, patience, and kindness shared with our families, in our marriages, in our friendships, and even in the relationships we form with acquaintances and co-workers.  We are called to shine true love to strangers, to neighbors, even to enemies.  Not a one among us is perfect, but rather than turn away when things get tough, rather than focus on flaws and hurt that we have from the past, we are called to still show true love.  Because true love is powerful indeed.

“People who love each other fully and truly are the happiest people in the world. They may have little, they may have nothing, but they are happy people. Everything depends on how we love one another.” – Blessed Mother Teresa”

Happily Ever After

There’s no such thing as ‘Happily Ever After.’

You’ve probably heard someone say this at some point.   Typically it is in rebuttal to the fantasy type romance offered by Disney movies, romantic dramas, fairy tales, and chick flick type entertainment.  This statement is meant to guard women in particular against believing that some day their prince in shining armor will appear out of nowhere, fall instantly in love, and stay that way forever.  Many argue that these stories portray false illusions of beauty and love and cause girls to grow up expecting a fairy tale “Happily Ever After” that simply does not exist.  But is that what we really want to teach our children?  That the idea of being happy forever is a myth?

I firmly believe in “Happily Ever After.”  Not in the gooey, sappy, our-eyes-met-across-a-crowded-room-and-instantly-I-loved-you sort of way.  Not in a naive notion of relationships without trials, arguments, or tears.  But in true happiness that lasts forever.

Happiness, I believe is an expression of joy.    Of the true joy that is found only in Christ.  Even on the days when I struggle the most, I can still find a glimmer of joy.  It might be a kiss from my husband.  Maybe a phone call from my Mom.  Maybe it’s the silly antics of my little pup or a beautiful sunset.  It could be a song that comes on the radio, a funny squirrel outside my window, a text from my sisters.   More than all those little things, even if I can’t seem to find one teeny tiny speck of happiness, I only need to go to Him.

“Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” ~ 1 Peter 1:8

We can be filled with indescribable joy because of Jesus Christ our Savior!  That joy is the happiness we seek.  And this is the happiness that truly can last forever!

“You show me the path of life.  In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”         ~Psalm 16:11

If we truly believe in God’s eternal promise to us, then “Happily Ever After” is more than a myth, it is precisely what we are seeking!  In our relationships we are called to lead others to Christ and to the eternal happiness found only through Him in heaven.   “Happily Ever After” is not about a boy and a girl who fall in love with each other and never have a care in the world.   No.  Instead, it is about finding the person God has intended for you and helping each other through thick and through thin to grow in faith and love of the Lord so that one day we truly will be in heaven with Him.  There is a happiness, a joy, that cannot be found in anything or anyone other than Christ.  Being able to share my faith with my husband as we grow together puts us on the path to the true happily ever after together in heaven with our loving Father who reigns forever and ever. That is the happily ever after I believe in.

Happy Anniversary!

Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate our 2nd anniversary as a married couple! In some ways I cannot believe it has been two whole years! It seems like yesterday we were planning the wedding, decorating the hall, and standing up in front of our family, friends, and God to pledge our love and lifelong commitment to each other. In other ways, though, it seems much longer than two years as I feel like I have known my husband forever!

I don’t mean to make this a mushy post…but I think it is important to focus on the wonderful blessings we have! Sometimes it can be easy to focus on we we lack or what we think is best for us instead of trusting in our Father’s plan. I know for me I sometimes get caught up in finances, those darn student loans, someday buying a house, and hoping for a baby. And while there is nothing wrong with saving money for a house, cutting out some extras to try and erase those student loans quicker, and praying that we might be blessed with a child, I have to make sure that those things do not become my focus. I have to be sure that I do not spend my energy on devising plans for the future rather than taking in the moments God has given me now. It is so important for us to count our blessings and praise the Lord for all He has given us. Nothing lifts your spirits more than taking in the wonder that surrounds you and praising the Creator of it all.

I feel very blessed to have such an amazing man in my life. He is so romantic, sweet, funny, smart, handsome, and most of all, he brings me closer to God. I thank the Lord everyday for bringing us together and I wanted to share with you today this song. It was our first dance at our wedding reception and I just think it is lovely. Enjoy!