Monday, March 21, 2016


Fear is a strange thing. Sometimes there is no logic to it. Other times it can make sense because there is a logical source or it is obvious why we are afraid. It can be crippling and debilitating. It can be shaken off and overcome. Many times in the faith journey of a young woman, she is faced by fear. How she reacts can either increase or decrease her faith. It is the decision of each individual that determines the direction in which they travel: Towards faith and a deepening in their relationship with God or to fall away from God towards despair and destruction.

I have been struck down by fear countless times in my life. There have been fears that were easily overcome and others I am still fighting. Something I think we all have to realize is that there will always be fear in our lives. Also, it is okay to be afraid and it is okay to need some time to sort things out. There are seasons for everything and they do not last forever.

At the same time that we are fighting against our fear, we can also find great strength in the fight if we form an alliance with Jesus Christ in our fight. If we fight against our fear with Jesus at our side there can be immense spiritual growth in these seasons of our lives. Fear can be a good thing. It is a way of knowing that we are human. Fear means we are leaving our comfort zone. The place that the most growth occurs in the life of a human being is outside of that individual’s comfort zone. Stepping outside of where we are the most comfortable can be terrifying, but it is necessary to grow closer to Jesus Christ.

A thought struck me the other day as I was absentmindedly singing along with the radio and a song called “Not Backing Down” by the Christian artist Blanca came on. The thought that struck me was: “I’m pretty comfortable. Nothing too crazy has happened in my life lately.” As I was thinking this I was shaken from my thoughts as I mis-sang the lyric: “I played it safe, been afraid my whole life.” Instead of singing the line properly, I sang: “I prayed it safe, been afraid my whole life.” I kind of blew my own mind a little bit.

How many times have we prayed the safe prayer? Instead of embracing the fear of the unknown and trusting in God’s plan for us, we choose to remain where we are comfortable. How much more exciting would our lives be if we didn’t “Pray it safe?” Where would Jesus take us on our journey of His plan if we surrendered our lives, full of trust in Him?

Let’s go on an adventure. Pray the risky prayer and see where it takes you.

~ Melina Lushbaugh

Not Backing Down - Blanca

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Paying It Forward.

Today was a good day. 

Today was the service project for The Ite Project (if you want to find out more about the Ite Project go to the website, yes, there IS a website, at Today, 11 of us met at a local walmart to shop for a family in dire need of basic necessities. 

The father's hours got cut. The mother has a chronic condition that prohibits her from working. They are BARELY making enough to pay the bills. The story of this family really hit home with me. It resonated in my soul.

Now, a lot of you are probably going to be like some people I know, you are a middle class white girl who has never known financial strife. Why do you think you are able to say that this "hit home" with you? 

Number one, never, never, NEVER judge a book by it's cover. Don't do it. You don't know a thing about me or my struggles, so please stop pretending you do.

But this story resonated for a very different reason. 

Approximately sixty years ago, a family was struggling much the same way this one was. The father had just lost his job and was about to be kicked out of the house. They were using what little savings they had to pay for basic needs, such as groceries and such and could not afford a new home.

And what's worse, he had 8 other mouths to feed and another one on the way. 

It was not long before he would be forced onto the street with his children. So he goes to his local parish pastor. 

(DISCLAIMER: I do not know the specifics. So this is a generalization of the conversation that I heard through word of mouth. But the story goes something like this.)

"Father, would it be alright if my wife and I employed the rhythm method?" 

(SIDENOTE: The rhythm method was basically NFP in the 50s.)

"My son, who put shoes on your children's feet?"

"Well, Father, God provided me the means to put shoes on their feet."

"So you are telling me, that you don't believe that the same God who provided you shoes for your children's feet won't provide a roof for their heads or food for the bellies?"

That man walked away from that conversation with something greater than food and shelter. He walked away with hope. 

When a friend heard of their predicament, he provided very low rent housing for him and his family. That man then took that courage and hope offered through the simple act of kindness of his fellow man and let it blossom. He started his own business.

After his daughter was born, he went on to have another son. That son was my father.

If it had been any other priest. If his friend had not heard about his predicament. If he hadn't had the courage to forge ahead in a risky entrepreneurial endeavor. If. If. If. I might never have been born. 

Don't underestimate the power of hope. It weakened the White Witch's power (Chronicles of Narnia). It destroyed the Soviet Union. It can get you through any situation or any predicament.

A holocaust survivor once described his experience in the work camps. He said that every day, someone would throw themselves at the wires. And there were times where he would try to do it himself. But he didn't. And it was for one reason. 


It is a powerful thing.

Who knows... sixty years from now, this couple's granddaughter will hear the story of how a group of young people helped them and pay it forward...

~Joan Crookston

Monday, March 7, 2016

Open Hearts

So ladies, I want to get real today. I've been having a very difficult Lent and went into it half-hearted this year. For the past ten years, I have struggled with depression due mostly to a very abusive situation. Before you feel sorry for me, I left that situation two years ago and God has brought me a long way since then. I am truly amazed at what God has done, and continues to do, in and through my life. However, I've really struggled this year and honestly last year too. 

Coming into Lent I really did not know what Jesus wanted me to do or give up, and I felt that if I had to "do" one more thing I would explode! I have been struggling financially, emotionally, personally, spiritually, etc. with so many things that I felt as if I was one of those circus acts trying to balance in their hands a bunch of plates on sticks, and if I stopped for just a second it would all come crashing down! Ever feel like that? If not, you're blessed, and smarter than I am. 

I realized, though, that God has been trying to tell me I have been "doing" too much, especially worrying, and need to slow down. I forgot the "best part” which is just being His and spending time with Him. Do you know how long it has been since I have regularly spent a long period of time with the Lord just being His? Oh, I pray daily, fervently participate in the Mass at least weekly, and believe this is what keeps me going, but rest? Resting, truly trusting in the Lord without worry, doubt, or fear? I forgot what that was like! 

I spent several years just surviving, trying to hold family together, including myself, remain faithful to God, and care for other people, trying to make them happy, that I forgot what it was like to truly rest and just "be" with the Lord. I learned to pretend that everything was okay and to "put on a happy face" instead of being honest with others and myself about how life really was: the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

This is why I'm writing to you tonight. To take off the mask, tear down the walls, and be honest. This is how we heal. This is how we open our hearts and let God's Grace in, let each other in, and open our hearts to the whole hurting world around us and bring others into God's Kingdom. This is what I find with the people I meet every day, and it's good. 

When I came to Christ almost 15 years ago, it wasn't "being good" or "doing the right things" that brought me home (as good as those things are). It was the knowledge that as broken, sinful, angry, frustrated, and hurt as I was, God loved me, and wanted me to be with Him. It was when I admitted my faults and failures, and acknowledged who Jesus was (Almighty God) and what he had done for me on the cross that I was healed. Continuing to let down my guard and be honest with Him and others allows His grace to come into my heart and flow into others’ lives, but it isn’t easy, and I want to be honest with all of you, as my dear sisters in Christ. 

I know I'm preaching to the choir, but thanks for giving me the space and allowing me to get things off my chest, let my guard down, let my plates fall and be honest about who I am, where I'm at, and who I want to be. Maybe you needed it, too, maybe not. But hopefully we can all let our guards down and be open enough to let the Love of God into our hearts and each other’s lives and heal us.

~Rachel Pavlik

If We're Honest - Francesca Battistelli

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Come to the Well...

"If you knew the gift of God who is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?" Jesus answered and said to her "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:10-14

How many times, like the Samaritan woman are we going to the well? How many times out of shame have we avoided the company of our peers and convinced ourselves that we are nothing more than the sum of our past sins? And yet, it was this woman, this isolated and lonely woman, whom Christ chose to receive this precious gift of the words of life.

She was a Samaritan, an outcast in the land she lived in. She was a harlot, having five husbands and living with someone who is not her husband. She was gathering water at noon, knowing that because of the heat many of the other townswoman would not be there to gather water. She would be alone. 

Yet, Christ comes and offers her of all people the water of eternal life.

Come to the well... This woman was chosen as the patroness of our group of particular women. We are varied as some are converts, some are not. Some of us ladies have come from abusive backgrounds and some of us struggle with our own image, continually having to remind ourselves that we are beautiful young women because we are Christs. Some of us are married. Some of us, single. Some of us have children, some of us do not.

We are teachers, healthcare workers, professional women, students...

But we are all... women of labor. Women of love. Women of Christ.

Like the women at the well, we have answered the call to share the good news and take part in the new evangelization.

The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, "Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?" They went out of town and came to him. John 4:28-30

I repeat!! Come!! See Him who has seen everything I have done and still offered me the cup of eternal life!! Could he possibly be the Messiah??!!

- Joan Crookston