30 Lessons from My First 30 Years

Tomorrow I turn thirty. And as I wrap up my thirtieth year ex utero, I’m feeling remarkably wise and mature–or at least blessed to follow a God who teaches me the same lesson over and over and over until I mostly get it. I’m not who I should be, but (praise God!) I’m not who I was. Here are the most important things I’m still trying to learn:

  1. If Jesus is God, that changes everything. Everything in your life has to look different because you (all of you, without exception) are loved beyond reason by Love himself.
  2. Jesus is God.
  3. The mercy of God is nowhere more evident than in the confessional. Go to confession. You have nothing to lose but your sin and your shame. You have everything to gain.
  4. There is nothing you can do to make God stop loving you and aching for you. He went to hell and back for you. He’d do it again.
  5. Prayer works.
  6. There’s never a good reason not to be kind.
  7. Kind is not the same as nice.
  8. God’s plan is always better.
  9. Bad prayer is better than no prayer.
  10. It’s going to be okay. Not because everything’s going to work out and everyone you love is going to be happy and healthy but because there is more to this life than this life.
  11. “Life holds only one tragedy: not to have been a saint.”1
  12. I am all beautiful and beloved and there is no blemish in me.2
  13. Self-loathing is not humility.
  14. God is not good because of what he does but because of who he is.
  15. Jesus didn’t just die for me, he lived for me. Every moment of every day for me.
  16. If you’re too busy to pray, you’re too busy.
  17. There is great freedom in submission.
  18. Joy is not just a side effect of the Christian life, it is a duty.
  19. It’s all grace. Every good thing and every failure, too–grace.
  20. It doesn’t matter what people think. Only God matters.
  21. Nothing but sin merits shame.
  22. “The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host.”3
  23. People are different. There’s no one way to be holy.
  24. If you ask God to teach you to trust, he might take you up on it. Buckle your seat belt.
  25. If your life isn’t built around prayer it’ll start to unravel.
  26. Men and women are different–and that really matters.
  27. “Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”4
  28. Every life is a gift. There is no such thing as an unwanted child.
  29. I can’t save anyone–but I also can’t mess up so badly that they’re condemned. It’s just not about me.
  30. I am deeply, unceasingly loved by a God who sees me as I am and knows I can be better.

It might be tacky, friends, but I’m going to ask you for a birthday present. Will you go to confession tomorrow? My favorite thing in the world is convincing people to go to confession and odds are really good that your church has confession at some point tomorrow, probably right before the vigil. So go! Especially if it’s been a long time and it’s going to be an ugly one; that’s the best kind of confession. It’ll be the best present you ever gave me–even if I never know.5

And now, because nobody likes a blog post without a picture, here's me in front of a waterfall.
And now, because nobody likes a blog post without a picture, here’s me in front of a waterfall.

Also, you might be a hobo if your plans for the next 8 months look something like this:

Through MayBroadly, anyway. Google Maps wouldn’t let me have more than 25 destinations.

  1. Leon Bloy []
  2. Sgs 4:7 []
  3. Ven. Fulton Sheen []
  4. C.S. Lewis []
  5. But you should tell me. What a great birthday–all filled with emails and comments telling me people across the world are being washed in the blood of the Lamb!! []

The Parable of the Parking Ticket

Tightwad GazetteI was raised cheap. I mean it–my mother had a subscription to The Tightwad Gazette, which sounds like a joke, but it was a real newsletter. Don’t worry, though; she got her subscription free. I was checking unit pricing before most kids even knew that different coins have different values. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m very grateful that I was taught to live frugally.1 When you’re a hobo, a taste for the finer things in life can really mess with your bottom line.

One problem with being such a natural cheapskate is that unforeseen expenses really shake me. Even if I have the money, having to shell out for something I wasn’t anticipating stresses me out more than anything.2 I get tense and anxious and feel almost guilty. It’s a little bit ridiculous.

So you can imagine what parking tickets do to me. Especially parking tickets a week after I had to get all new tires and rims.3

My new BFF Nicole came with me. I say she's my new BFF because I met her once and she decided to book me to speak at her church and at a youth conference and then she took me to the beach and helped me make signs and took me to In-n-Out and is basically awesome.
My new BFF Nicole came evangelizing with me. I say she’s my new BFF because I met her once and she decided to book me to speak at her church and at a youth conference and then she took me to the beach and helped me make signs and took me to In-n-Out and is basically awesome.

After a lovely afternoon evangelizing the Santa Monica Pier, I came back to the miserable sight of a slip of paper under my windshield wiper. And despite my disbelief, there was, in fact, a sign 10 feet behind my car that pointed out two different parking rules I was breaking. So I couldn’t even be outraged. Sigh.

I tried to be okay with it, despite the large price tag attached to my complete failure to check for restrictions. I tried to tell myself that it’s not that much money, that it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, that I should never let anything rob me of my joy, blah, blah, blah.

But what I really needed was prayer. Fortunately, I was headed (after sitting in traffic for an hour and a half) to see Jesus. And it’s a good thing, too, because he had quite a lot to say to me.

You know how I do that read-the-Bible-in-a-year thing? Are you doing it with me? Because here’s the first thing I read, sitting tense and frustrated in the Church courtyard:

“You also are now in anguish. But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take that joy from you.” (John 16:22)

Double sigh. Yeah, I get it. The stupid parking ticket doesn’t matter. What matters is Christ and rejoicing in him and getting to heaven one day and whatever.

Then I saw that I had drawn in an asterisk and written a note in the margin:

Easter joy

Can you read that? It says “Don’t let anything rob you of Easter joy.” Okay, fine. Got it. Still joyful even though I was a moron and got that stupid ticket.

But God, apparently, wasn’t okay with my pretense of peace. Reading to the end of the chapter, I saw this:

“In the world you will have trouble, but take courage: I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)

I’d been sitting there worrying–unnecessarily because God and his people are so generous and even on a natural level I have nothing to worry about–about how I have to pay this ticket and I don’t have the money for it (which I do) and I’m not going to make any more money (which I will) and what am I going to do? Now, I know rationally that this ticket is not a huge deal, but I was feeling so anxious and I had to have something to feel anxious about, so apparently I decided on this. And God told me, very clearly, that he’s got this. That I might run into some financial issues but it’s never going to be a problem, just like it’s never been a problem in the past. Not a problem he can’t handle, anyway.

Okay, I thought, I get it. Really, this time. There’s no earthly reason for me to be so stressed about this and every heavenly reason for me not to be. Jesus, I trust in you. We’re good.

But God in his mercy (and maybe in his irony) wasn’t finished with me yet. Turn with me to the proverb on my schedule for today:

“It is the Lord’s blessing that brings wealth and no effort can substitute for it.” (Proverbs 10:22)

I put this neat filter on the picture so it would look as ominous as it did to me this afternoon. Clever, huh?
I put this neat filter on the picture so it would look as ominous as it did to me this afternoon. Clever, huh?

Friends, I can’t make these things up! I literally flipped to a passage that told me specifically that all the money I have comes from God and I have no business freaking out about it. Because being as cheap as I am isn’t about prudence, it’s about control. And, as in all things, I am not in control. Everything I have comes from the hand of the Lord. He’s always reminding me of this, although he’s usually a little subtler about it. But a hard head like mine doesn’t respond well to subtle. Give me a parking ticket, though, and I sit up and take notice.

So I guess my point is one I’ve made often before (and clearly ignored in my own life): trust God. Even when there’s money involved. Even when the mess you’re in is your own stupid fault. Even when it just seems like one thing after another after another. And especially when he smacks you upside the head with your Bible. Because today’s “catastrophe” won’t look like much in a few weeks. And today’s actual disaster won’t look like much from the other side of your judgment. But the love of God, his providence, his sacrifice for you? Nothing will take that joy from you. Take courage; he has conquered the world. And its parking tickets.


P.S. I haven’t forgotten about that divinity of Christ series. It’s just that things keep happening that I want to tell you guys about!

  1. Really. Thanks, Mama! []
  2. Except running through the airport knowing I’m going to miss my flight. That is the worst! []
  3. Speaking of which, anyone looking for a set of used Mazda3 rims? 3 in good condition. The other was the occasion of the aforementioned ridiculous expenditure…. []

My Favorite Place

One question I get a lot these days (almost as much as “Do you really live out of your car?“) is “What’s your favorite place you’ve spoken?”

Well, friends, that was a tough question. Let me give you a quick run-down of my life over the past 8 months:

  • Started in Kansas
  • Stopped over with friends in Indiana
  • Spent the night with a family in Pennsylvania
  • Babysat for my sister in Virginia, spoke at the diocesan work camp
  • Overnight in PA
  • South Bend for a wedding and some time with friends
  • Back to Virginia to MC a junior high work camp
  • A girls’ retreat in Georgia, then a youth leader retreat
  • An overnight in Ohio
  • First vows with the Sisters I entered with in Michigan1
  • A few more days in Pennsylvania
  • Visited friends in New York City and Western New York
  • Back to Indiana for a while
  • Breakfast with one of my kids in Indiana, lunch with another in Illinois
  • Time with friends in Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana
  • Got stuck in Alabama–glad I was there
  • Ave Maria, Florida, to speak to a few Bible studies, a youth group, and a gathering of would-be apologists
  • Left Alabama in the morning, not knowing where I’d stay. Ended up with a friend’s sister’s husband
  • Taught classes at my old school in Kansas, spoke at Benedictine College
  • Theology on Tap in Omaha
  • Retreat with the University of Evansville in Indiana
  • Back to Virginia for some babysitting and a little volunteering
  • Down to Georgia for a chastity retreat in Winder, a youth group meeting in Athens, and a lecture on the Reformation at Georgia Tech2
  • Hightailed it up to Virginia, getting there right before the twins were born. Spoke to a junior high group
  • Ran to Delaware right quick to talk to young professionals on the New Evangelization
  • Back to Virginia to babysit, with a quick hiatus for a lock-in in Maryland and a talk on the Mass at Old Dominion University
  • Christmas!
  • Hawaii, where I spoke after three Masses, to two youth groups, two women’s groups, two informal gatherings of moms, three volunteer sessions, and a group of adults who gave up a whole Saturday for my Apologetics Boot Camp
  • Back to Georgia for a Theology of the Body talk at Georgia Tech (videos to follow) and at a high school youth group (and at Georgia College and State University tonight)

With a list like that, with that many cities and venues and homes, it’s no wonder I had a hard time deciding what I’d liked the best!

Well, no more. Hands down, Hawaii.

Hawaii Beach
This is what I did with my Tuesday afternoon. NBD.

Of course, there’s the weather. Leaving cold, gray Virginia for sunny Hawaii was definitely a perk. And you can’t beat a warm beach in January. And then there’s the landscape–it’s like God had finished creating the world and he decided to make one more spot, just in case the Alps and the Adriatic coast and Australia’s coral reefs and Angel Falls3 weren’t enough to convince us he loved us. Just to be sure, he made one more string of islands and shoved as many ecosystems as he could right up together to show his creative genius, to shout his love. Gorgeous beaches run up against prehistoric forests4 with jagged mountains wreathed in clouds just a stone’s throw away. It’s unreal.

That thing I’m doping with my hand is called a shaka. Around my neck is a fuzzy lei.5 On my head is a homemade lei that I think was also supposed to go around my neck but it was made by children who underestimated the enormity of my head, so I wore it like a crown. For the entire talk. Because I’m that dedicated.

But so much more than the island itself, it was the people I worked with at St. Damien’s. The ladies who opened their hearts so quickly, who are my friends now. The children who fell asleep in my lap. The families who picked me up early in the morning, drove me around, fed me, and then gave me donations on top of all that. The women who showed up over and over again–even twice a day–hungry for God’s word and eager to make me feel welcome. The lady who spoke to me on the phone after I left, telling me honestly how she’s hurting and listening when I tried to show her how the Lord wants to heal her. The man who told me the boot camp left him more confused about his faith than ever–stunning me until his wife told me he was a Baptist. And of course there was the wonderful woman who arranged my trip, picked me up from the airport, housed me, fed me, planned my week, sat up nights talking with me, and even made sure that everyone who picked me up was planning on feeding me. All of these beautiful military families–they cooked and drove and listened and prayed and spread the word and took notes. I was treated like a princess–and humbled, humbled, humbled by their openness and love.

I think this is the same kind of card they give to their own members when they leave for a new assignment.

I have never felt more welcome anywhere in my entire life. After just a few days, that community became home, and by the time I left, my new friends were hatching a plan to put my picture on a bucket and carry it around asking for donations so I could come back. And you know what? Whether I go back to Hawaii or not, I’ll see those women again. In Colorado or Alabama or Alaska6 or wherever. I spoke to the women’s groups about how desperately God loves them–and these ladies reminded me how true it is by making me one of them.

And then, as if meals and beaches and conversations and a paycheck and cards and gifts and friendship weren’t enough, they recorded most of my sessions on Friday–and then gave me the video camera! That’s right, gone are the days of cell phone videos. I am officially the owner of a Sony Bloggie Waterproof camera for all my deep sea speaking needs! I’m linking to the videos below so those of you who didn’t get to attend7 can live vicariously. Or so you can take these videos to your pastor/DRE/whoever and get me to your parish!

The first talk defended the existence of God and the divinity of Christ:

After discussing what unites Christians, I explained what divides us:

Later, we hit the Eucharist and confession:

And ended the day with some intense morality issues:

Obviously, these videos don’t cover all 6 hours of the boot camp, but they should give you a pretty good taste. Plus, my friends in Hawaii are so awesome, they had a professional television editor come in to tape the whole day. I have no idea what the final product is going to look like, but I know it won’t happen for a few months. Be sure I’ll let you know when it does!

So no brilliant point today, just joy in the generosity of the people of God and some videos to keep you busy. Because these ladies taught me that even when I feel like all I have to give is pathetic, God is doing great things for his glory.

My new medal of St. Damien–given to me by St. Damien’s Church in Hawaii–on my keys so I remember the blessing of that week.


If you haven’t been over to Bonnie’s yet to vote for your favorite Catholic blogs, please do! Voting ends today at 6pm Central, but I think she’s tallying the votes manually, so please don’t vote more than once. Do vote for me and for my sister if you read her–which you should. She’s “A Blog for My Mom” and she’s funny and her kids are amazing and probably way harder to deal with than whatever is exhausting you these days, so at least take a look when you feel overwhelmed and remember that whatever else is going on, you (probably) don’t have 4 kids under 4!8

  1. This confuses people. I did not profess vows. I just went to celebrate with them as they did. []
  2. Georgia Tech is definitely high in the standings for favorite place. []
  3. That alliteration was totally accidental! []
  4. I may just think they look prehistoric because they remind me of Land of the Lost. []
  5. Which I’m giving to my niece. She’s going to die of excitement. []
  6. In the summer, please! []
  7. You poor mainlanders, you. []
  8. Not that we’re comparing, it’s just sometimes a relief to think that other people have it rough, too. And to think how much rougher it could be. But not to downplay our suffering in the face of someone else’s crazy life. Oh, whatever. You read my post the other day. You don’t need me to explain that I don’t think my sister is better than you. Even if I kind of do. []


Okay, I’ll jump on the bandwagon (does it count as a bandwagon if it’s the purpose of a centuries-old holiday?) and tell you some of the things I’m thankful for. In no particular order:

  1. Notre Dame football
  2. Jesus

    How can you not love a little girl who picks her nose with such abandon?
  3. Bacon
  4. Princess books
  5. Lilacs
  6. My nephew and nieces
  7. Hulu
  8. The Blessed Mother
  9. Being a nomad
  10. Music
  11. Old friends
  12. New friends
  13. Strangers who share their hearts with me
  14. Fingernails
  15. Audiobooks
  16. Blogging
  17. John Donne
  18. Saints
  19. Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne–stunning.

    Tickling small children

  20. The Triduum
  21. Berries
  22. Colors
  23. The Mass
  24. Beauty
  25. Waffle House
  26. Jeans
  27. Nutella
  28. St. Damien of Molokai
  29. A comfortable bed–or really any bed at all
  30. Parishes in Hawaii that want me to come speak
  31. Spring
  32. The elderly
  33. Storytelling
  34. So You Think You Can Dance
  35. The end of the election
  36. Truth
  37. Impressionist art
  38. Toddlers
  39. Snuggling with little ones
  40. Excedrin

    I’m sitting on the futon typing and across the room I see Cookie and Elmo tucked neatly into bed on the couch. It’s a good thing Cecilia takes such good care of them.
  41. Facebook
  42. Pope Benedict
  43. Being a Domer
  44. Confession
  45. St. Catherine of Alexandria
  46. The games children play
  47. Coffee
  48. Laughter
  49. Reunions
  50. Butterflies
  51. Rome
  52. The mountains
  53. Easter eggs
  54. Cooking
  55. The Cross
  56. Chick Fil-A
  57. The color pink
  58. Polka dots
  59. Scripture

    I get excited just looking at the picture!
  60. Grammar
  61. Pinterest
  62. Naps
  63. The priesthood
  64. This video
  65. 96-count boxes of crayons
  66. Mashed potatoes
  67. BOOKS!
  68. White chocolate
  69. The Eucharist
  70. New haircuts
  71. Stained glass windows
  72. Cardinal Dolan
  73. Land O’Lakes hot chocolate
  74. The way kids laugh when they’ve still got tears on their cheeks
  75. Gelato
  76. G.K. Chesterton
  77. The internet

    I totally made this for Charlotte and I’m really proud of it. It’s a blanket. Made of sleeping owls. I’m pretty sure you can tell that when you see it in person.
  78. My cute brown boots
  79. JPII
  80. White chocolate
  81. Perpetual adoration
  82. Manti Te’o
  83. Crocheting
  84. Family
  85. Prayer
  86. Limeade
  87. E. Nesbit, Eward Eager, L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Noel Streatfeild, and all the authors of my continued childhood
  88. Comfy shoes
  89. Peppermint
  90. Memories
  91. Hoodies
  92. The joy of knowing my Savior
  93. Puppies
  94. Sleeping in
  95. Crunch ‘n Munch
  96. Snow
  97. Cooking competition shows
  98. Slinkies
  99. Freedom and democracy
  100. Knowing that I am loved

So there you have it–the first hundred things I thought of. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the number of foods on the list given what Thanksgiving is really all about…. Now get off the computer and go cook something!

Back in the Classroom

Last week I got in my car and drove 16 hours to the kids I left in May. Hours and hours I drove to make it in time for Homecoming, to watch the game and see the dresses and hug the queen and let the new alums curse in front of me because they finally can. I pulled up Thursday afternoon and walked up to the school where I quite literally lived for two years.

To girls who shout “You’re my favorite teacher ever” and insist on taking a picture with me.

To girls who screamed and ran to hug me.

To a wide receiver who told the football team they had to win homecoming for me—not to break an eight-year losing streak at homecoming but to thank me for showing up.

To a team that played their guts out and shattered the streak—and thanked me afterwards for being there.

To “I haven’t told anyone else about this, but….”

To “Please come back. Please—we need you.”

To the quarterback who schedules confessions for the team because I convinced him that he plays better in a state of grace.

To dozens of kids who still know all the books of the Bible in order.

To classrooms full of eager eyes and quick smiles, full of kids who still remember what I taught them.

To a volleyball team that yells not “Team” or “Ravens” but “Ms. H-K” when they go for the win.

To girls who stare at me from the bench until I look across the soccer field and see them waving.

To “I miss your homework and your notes.”

To “I took your notebook to college. Everyone else borrows it to study for tests.”

To “Can we talk while you’re in town?”

To “I need your help,” “Please pray for me,” ”I’ve hit rock bottom,” “I don’t think I can try anymore,” “What should I do?”

To a heart that burns with pride and weeps with frustration and fears and loves and despairs and hopes and prays and prays and prays.

And I ache and I cry because I just love them so hard. And when they ask me to come back I want so badly to say yes. I want so badly to be here for them and to love them and yell at them and challenge and console and listen and teach and advise and suffer and just be theirs.

But they don’t need me. Because if they needed me, I’d still be here. So when they ask me to stay, I just tell them, “I can’t. I’m in God’s will. I have to be faithful to that. I’m so sorry.”

I don’t miss grading or discipline or long days or constant disrespect or any number of stupid issues that plague teachers. But I miss my kids so much. I’m so blessed to be so loved by these little ones—these big ones, these “adults” who are still my babies—but their love makes it hurt all the more.

And I wonder if there’s always a longing when you’re in God’s will. My restless heart wants this life he’s given me and wants my kids, too. But the ache reminds me that this world is not my home. It reminds me that I was made for more. I’m glad of the reminder in the midst of a life so full of grace. I’m glad to feel the poverty of earthly joy because it reminds me to long for heaven. I’m glad to suffer whatever he asks me to suffer for the glory of his name and the salvation of souls. I’m glad, I am.

And still I weep for missing them.

Birthday Blessings

September birthdays are awkward. They’re at the beginning of the school year, so you don’t know quite who your friends are this year. Or you’re at a new school and nobody knows it’s your birthday. Or maybe you’re (I’m) just an awkward person. For whatever reason, my birthdays are often anticlimactic: the day in high school when not one person remembered; the party I threw for myself while I was teaching that almost nobody could come to; the cafeteria chow mein I celebrated with my last year in Kansas. Much like New Year’s Eve, my birthday just doesn’t live up to the hype.

For some people, birthdays are about cotton candy. I want to be friends with those people.

So a few years back, I started to look at my birthday a different way. Instead of spending the day getting other people to celebrate me (which I’m not averse to), I try to take a good chunk of time with the Lord to look at what he’s done in my life over the past year.

For some people, birthdays are about presents or parties or long phone calls with faraway friends. For me, they’re examens, days of gratitude and contrition and petition. The day I turned 20, I learned to be grateful for the suffering I’d endured that year. The day I turned 23, I was so overwhelmed by the blessings of the previous year, I asked God for fewer consolations. The day I turned 25, the Lord asked me to be his bride. These are days that stand out in stark relief against the confused background of my busy life.

Today I am 29—which seems much older than I could possibly be—and I am just so grateful. I wanted to take a moment to share the things I am most grateful for:

1. My vocation. More than anything else, I am so grateful that the Lord has called me to belong completely to him, to give him my undivided heart. The greatest joy of my life is the promise that I will be his bride. He has given me such a deep love for him—despite the nonsense that I try to fill my heart with—that I’m really beginning to hunger for him, to delight in him and to rest in him.

The day he called me—4 years ago today—I sobbed. I told him I would be his, but I “knew” I’d never be happy about it. But God is so much bigger than my shriveled little heart, and gradually it’s been swelling with love for him and his Church and his people until there’s so little room left for envy or anxiety. I almost don’t long for marriage any more. I almost don’t ache for children. I almost don’t worry about being alone. I almost don’t feel bitter. And each time I forget how enraptured I am by the gift of my vocation, he lifts my chin and gazes on me and I know—I know—that I am radiant with his beauty and captivating. I am so beautiful and so worthy–by his grace–and oh just so blessed to be his.

The more I love him, the more beautiful I am because he begins to shine through me. Most of the time I’m just little fallen me, but more and more I’m reminded of who I am in Him. More and more he draws my attention back to him and I fall in love again.

Marriage is so beautiful and so holy and such a blessing, but this? This is so me! This fits the joys and the struggles of my heart so perfectly—there’s nothing I would trade for this. Nothing.

2. My faith. I so very nearly wasn’t the person I’ve become. Everything good in my life is so clearly a product of grace. I am so grateful for having been chosen and claimed. It’s not just loving Christ that brings joy to my heart but knowing him, especially in the Eucharist. I’m so blessed to have been drawn into the Church and led to seek truth in his Word.

I was too cynical and too arrogant and too enamored of my own intelligence to  accept the truth of the Gospel. I’m still a self-important mess but–wonder of wonders–he’s given me the gift of faith. Every once in a while, I get a glimpse of the life I could have been living if not for his grace. I am so blessed.

3. My ministry. I haven’t written anything that wasn’t assigned since I was in grade school and I never would have started had it not been for the Lord—but I love this! I love expressing myself in this way and I love that my work is touching hearts.

But more than blogging, I’m so grateful to be able to travel and speak to such different groups of people. This week, I got to talk to a group of holy young women about discernment and my particular vocation and answer their questions. The next day, I was off to a youth group to talk about God’s desperate love for us. Yesterday, I presented on defending Christianity and the divinity of Christ. Then this morning, I met a young woman for coffee and an incredible conversation about discernment and prayer and mortifications and consecrated virginity.

I feel outrageously blessed that the Lord continues to use me with large groups and in one-on-one settings to speak his truth to souls. I’ve wanted to be a missionary since I was in high school and I’m so grateful that he knows how to use me best and that he’s entrusted some part of the mission of his Kingdom to my weak hands.

I am especially grateful that these kids put up with me.

4. My loved ones. I’ve mentioned before that I hate to be needy or burdensome. All this living out of my car and off the generosity of others? It’s really hard for me. But I’m surrounded by beautiful people who are so gracious, people who don’t think they’re doing me a favor by letting me stay with them—people who even ask me to stay longer and longer still. They offer prayers and spare rooms and graphic design and introductions—and they’re happy to do it! It’s so humbling to be so well loved by so many amazing people.

5. You! I can’t believe I have so many subscribers (almost 500)! I’m so grateful to you for reading my posts and sharing or liking or commenting. Thank you for praying for me, for offering a place to stay, and for helping out financially. Thank you especially to those who’ve invited me to come speak! God is continuing to surround me with generous people who are so willing to help me even if we’ve never met and I’m so blessed by all of you.


This year, I got the rug pulled out from underneath me—again. After 15 years of wanting to be in the classroom until the day I died, the Lord asked me to teach in a new way. After a lifetime of wanting roots and stability, he called me to drop everything and follow with nothing but a walking stick. He is providing, as he always does. He is blessing me, as he always does. And he is holding me close and drawing my heart gradually, gently, with such tender love. I just—I can’t—friends, there aren’t even words. I am so blessed. Praise God with me.


I’m such a jerk. That’s probably not news to those of you who’ve met me, but I thought I’d put it out there for the many of you who only see the nice polished stuff that I put on the internet.

When I ran into that car issue, I didn’t feel like I was suffering terribly. I wasn’t moaning and lamenting the great difficulty of my life. I was well aware that there were people struggling dramatically more than I and that by all rights I owed God nothing but gratitude.1

And still I whined. I was so frustrated with the situation, with the fact that I was trying to do some really good work and it just fell apart. I checked flights and buses and even trains (turns out Mobile doesn’t have those) and I just knew there was nothing to be done. They couldn’t get me my car in time and I couldn’t afford an alternative.

And so because I couldn’t see how God was going to work this out, I added that petulant line about not knowing whether I’d see the good it brought this side of heaven. Because I knew nothing good was going to come of it now. I’m sure this is good for my soul somehow, I thought, but it definitely isn’t going to work out in the short run.

But God is so good and so generous and so much bigger than I give him credit for. I was cranky and mopey and he just busted my world wide open.

An incredible family—people I’ve never met in my life—contacted me and asked if they could fly me to Florida. Free. (Say a quick prayer for the Hanks family that God would reward them for their incredible generosity. Ready, set, go! … Okay, thanks.)

In case you missed it, that’s a free plane ticket the day before I needed it.


And once again I went to sulk at the tomb and found it empty.

In addition to the flight, I had offers of help (financial and spiritual) from friends, an invitation to dinner in Mobile, and the continued hospitality of my hosts there. Once I got my travel plans figured out (bus to New Orleans, fly to Ft. Meyers, drive to Ave, reverse), I had two offers of a place to stay in New Orleans and three offers of a ride to the airport. My friends in Mobile are going to pick up my car while I’m gone and even offered to pay for it and let me pay them back if I couldn’t pay over the phone.

Grace and joy and charity unbounded.

I knew from the beginning that there was a lesson in this. But the day before it happened, this was the reading in the Office:

The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the boat of Jesus. What are we to fear? Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile? ‘The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of goods? We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it. I have only contempt for the world’s threats, I find its blessings laughable. I have no fear of poverty, no desire for wealth. I am not afraid of death nor do I long to live, except for your good. I concentrate therefore on the present situation, and I urge you, my friends, to have confidence…. Let the world be in upheaval. I hold to his promise and read his message; that is my protecting wall and garrison. -St. John Chrysostom

And then that day was the Triumph of the Cross, and then Our Lady of Sorrows, and finally Sunday readings about suffering and taking up your cross. So I figured that the lesson was, “Sometimes things go wrong and there’s nothing you can do but God is still awesome so quit whining.”

And then I got that email—the one that told me that God continues to work miracles today through his body the Church. And I realized how close he holds me and how much he blesses me and how completely undeserving I am. Even when I’m faithless, when I forget how powerful he is and how desperately he loves me, he continues to work for my good. Even when I’ve decided what he can and can’t do, he’s not limited by my faithlessness. Even when I’m a jerk and get all caught up in myself, he keeps drawing me close.

If this trip to Ave had gone off without a hitch, it would have been just another trip. Now it’s a gift, an opportunity for grace, a challenge to deserve what’s been given to me.

Sometimes the obstacles we encounter are there to strengthen us, sometimes to teach us, and sometimes to smack us upside the head and remind us how little we are and how big is our God. Meg, consider yourself smacked.

So thanks to David, Melissa, Coleen, Chrissy, Sean, Margaret, Elizabeth, Grace, Veronica, Calleen, Cathy, Katherine,2 and everyone who was sending silent prayers my way. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Christ.

I’m beginning to think that some great things might happen while I’m down at Ave—it sure seems like Satan doesn’t want me to get there and God clearly does. So will you throw up some prayers for me and the souls I’ll be speaking to? And let me know if you’re in that area—I’ll get you the info on the sessions that are open to the public.

God is good, my friends. Even when we can’t see it.

  1. And in case I didn’t know that, I found out soon after posting my last that a dear friend has suffered a miscarriage. Please pray for their sweet little family. []
  2. I hope I didn’t miss anyone! It’s early and I’m writing this in the airport–thank you, too!! []