Tag Archives: Catholic

Why the Catholic Church is Too Legit for Me to Quit

18 Jun

behealed

“We started going to a new church and they have communion every week!”

My heart ached for my close friend as I listened to her discuss the Protestant church that she has been attending. While I was really happy that she had returned to church after a long absence, I knew that my friend didn’t really understand what she was missing – the Real Presence.

The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Lumen gentium, no. 11; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1324). It is the foundation of the Church and the ultimate sacrifice and offering of thanksgiving to God. And while there is debate among Christians about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, it is notable that even Satanists acknowledge the consecrated bread and wine as Jesus Christ. The Bible and the writings of several Early Church fathers, dating back to A.D. 110 declare that the bread and wine are REALLY the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Most Christians are familiar with The Bread of Life Discourse in John 6. Verses 51-57 state:

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.

Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”

Then John 6: 60-66 goes on to state:

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”

Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you?”

What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?

It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh, is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one would betray him.

And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

If the bread and wine were just symbols of Jesus’ Body and Blood, why would so many of his followers leave? It doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that Jesus tried to clarify his teaching to sway people to come back. Additional proof of the teaching of the Real Presence is in the writings of some of the earliest followers of Jesus. Catholic Answers shares several passages in this post.

The following is one such passage written by Justin Martyr in A.D. 151:

We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus (First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).

The collective writings of the early Church Fathers is the main reason that my husband converted to the Catholic faith in 2006 and played a role in my father’s conversion in 2010. I knew nothing of the early Church Fathers until my husband began researching the faith. I was fortunate to have been raised Catholic by my devout mother, but it is amazing what the fresh eyes and ears of someone who is seeking truth can bring to light and deeper understanding. These historical writings just reconfirmed what a miracle and gift we have in the Eucharist.

Sadly, it has been reported that only about 30 percent of Catholics believe that bread and wine after transubstantiation is entirely Jesus- Body and Blood, soul and divinity. I guess this explains why it’s not so surprising that many have fallen away from the Church. Without an understanding of what the Church teaches on the Eucharist, it must be easy to live without it when one doesn’t know what they’re missing. I was happy to hear my parish pastor speak on this the other Sunday, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. If all of us Catholics truly believed in this mystery and reflected on the power of receiving the most precious Body and Blood of Jesus, we would all be radiating joy and peace. What an impact this would have on ourselves, our families, and the communities we live in!

When I first contemplated writing this post about why I’m staying in the Catholic Church, after all Catholics were encouraged to do so by Elizabeth Scalia (who was inspired by Tod Worner’s post), I considered typing up 100 Reasons Why I’m Catholic. I have experienced so many blessings and benefits because of this Church that offers numerous opportunities to continuously grow in a relationship with Jesus. I can’t imagine my life without the inspiring lives of the saints and their words of wisdom, the sacraments, beautiful devotions, and tradition that extends back to the time of Jesus and his apostles. I love being part of a faith that focuses on the dignity of each person and values all life. Maybe I will write that post someday, but the one thing that matters the most is the Holy Eucharist.

For anyone who is interested in learning more about the Real Presence from those who are far more knowledgeable than me, check out The Lamb’s Supper by well-known Catholic convert, Scott Hahn, and The 7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn.

Spotlight on PJ Anderson and New Album RISE

27 Sep

pjandersonrise

For those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile, you probably know by now that I love sharing about people who are using their talents and living God’s will for their life. I also love meaningful music and catchy melodies. Today I get to combine these passions by sharing about Catholic artist, PJ Anderson!

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be able to listen to PJ’s yet-to-be released fourth album, RISE. What I kept coming back to while listening to each track was that these songs come from such an authentic, truthful, and passionate place. It’s a combination that can be rare to find, even among Christian artists. I love how the album kicks off with the anthem title track, “Rise”. It really sets the tone for the rest of the songs to follow. I’m excited for PJ, because I think this album is going to launch him to another level in the music world!

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to get to know a little more about PJ and what inspires his music. He generously answered some questions for me, but, first of all, I must share that he’s a fellow midwestern native and Notre Dame fan! (GO IRISH!) He and his wife and two children also reside in Nashville, so I look forward to hopefully meeting them soon!

1. Your 4th album, RISE, will be released soon, so the fall is going to be a pretty busy time for you! What does the rest of 2014 have in store?

2013-2014 has been such a blessing! I started writing a song a week last year and that is where the songs for RISE and my last album, Let Your Light Shine have come. I played a mega-workshop at NCYC (National Catholic Youth Conference) in November where 25,000 come to grow in faith and spent the year traveling for concerts, youth conferences and retreats.

This past summer I lead worship and music at Catholic Heart Work Camp for 7 weeks. I’ve spent the last 6 summers working with CHWC leading music at mission trips across the country. This fall has been packed with logistics and promoting RISE. 1400 copies have pre-sold prior to the official release mainly through pre-sales at CHWC, an exclusive release with http://www.lovegoodmusic.com. The first single, “Beautiful Mess” debuted at #40 on iTunes Christian Charts.

The album releases October 7 and is currently on iTunes Pre-Order for special pricing of $7.99. The album release show will happen in Nashville at The Axis Church in Germantown (1423 2nd Avenue North) on October 10 with doors at 6p and show at 7p. Perfect opportunity for people to come listen and praise and then head over to Germantown’s Oktoberfest.

After the album officially releases, my year consists of traveling the country for youth conferences, concerts and retreats.

My wife, Rachel, and I also lead pilgrimages to Rome and Assisi for youth and adult church groups. I studied in Rome for a semester and returned for a year to work as a Resident Assistant at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center. Since then, my love for Rome has led us to take others and hopefully encourage a love for Rome in others. Here is a link to a video from our last trip! Spoiler alert, our two kiddos were kissed by Pope Francis!!!! It was AMAZING! Here’s the video.

We will return to Rome in April and then Catholic Heart Work Camp will start again in June.

pjandersonrise2

2. How did you experience God’s call for you to pursue music? Any significant obstacles or “God moments” on your journey so far?

God was laying seeds to write and pursue music, but I wasn’t always listening. I was actually the kid who got in trouble with my Mom for not singing at Mass! I started playing guitar when I was in 5th grade where I learned from a nun, Sister Charita. I played from 5-8 grade at school Masses but stopped playing in high school to pursue my dream of being in the NBA! I put all my eggs in the basket of playing basketball. I’m not exactly built for the NBA, but I thought I was! But, I picked the guitar back up in college and started writing songs then. Many of my first songs came while I was studying abroad in Rome. I didn’t start out exclusively writing worship music, but God was always a part of my music. I have now found a musical home in writing worship songs that lead the listener, the worshipper, into a close, personal space with our loving God. I am thankful for where God has led me. The path wasn‚Äôt always easy, but he equipped me with the faith, inspiration and relationships to create an album that will lead others to closer to Him.

I was a Youth Minister for 6 years near Chicago with my wife, Rachel. Long story short, but when we were expecting our first child, Rachel had some serious pregnancy issues and had to be rushed to the hospital and she was put on hospital bedrest for 3.5 weeks. Trey (Paul John III) was born 6 weeks early and was in the NICU for 2.5 weeks. It was a very difficult season filled with fear and joy at the same time. I also lost my job as a Youth Minister because I was not able to be in the office as I was staying in the hospital with my wife. As difficult as it was, God led us through the darkness of that season and opened up many doors in music, especially in Nashville. Phone calls started coming in from groups that I had met at CHWC mission trips and they started asking me to come to their parishes and youth groups for concerts and retreats. Relationships with producers, musicians and youth ministers started blooming and gave us the courage to make the big move to Nashville. God made it obvious that my time as a Youth Minister at one parish was done, but that He wanted me sharing music with many people across the country, if that makes sense. So, I now joke that I get to be like the uncle that comes in and riles up the kids before they go to bed. I’m now the traveling “Youth Minister” who comes in plays music, shares stories and talks and then I go home! No paperwork here! Ha!

We are so blessed with the life we have in Nashville and thankful that God led us here to continue to minister and lead others into relationship with Him. I mean, I get to write and sing songs, travel the country sharing those, take care of my kiddos during the week and call that work. It’s awesome!

3. What draws you to working with, and motivating, teenagers and young adults?

I love working with high schoolers and young adults! It’s the way God built me! He created me as an outgoing, extrovert that loves to interact, build relationships and laugh and love. Part of what draws me is the desperate need for hope amongst teenagers and young adults. There is a great sense of hopelessness at times in our world, especially at those ages. I was at a retreat where 3 witness talks in a row by 3 high school girls were all attempted suicide stories. That breaks my heart! That emptiness, that brokenness says there is no hope and that is the biggest lie of our generation. There is ALWAYS hope. And my goal and prayer is to make sure those that I minister with and to truly realize that. That “God loves you” isn’t some cheesy thing your youth minister says, but that it’s truth. He loves us so much that He has given and continues to give us everything. And we are called to give Him our everything. And that no matter how dark things get, how broken we are, God doesn’t love us any less. One of the songs from RISE called “Grace Is Hope” says, “No sin is more hopeless than my Savior has grace. My Savior is grace.” There is no sin, no brokenness, no pain that is too great for God to conquer. He is our grace. He is our hope. That is what draws me to working youth and young adults.

pjanderson

4. Do you have any favorite songs, books, Bible verses, etc., that you find inspiring?

Ooooh! Tough one. Favorite songs right now are:

“Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher. This song is just a great reminder of our need for God, for the Lord. In a world that tells us that independence makes us strong, I think we forget that our dependence on God makes us even stronger.
“All The Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters. Oh man, this song! It’s been making me cry listening in the car! Ha! The need and calling for all of us to rise to God’s call to love and serve. That’s the theme of RISE and this song articulates that perfectly. “All will sing out hallelujah, We will cry out hallelujah” We serve and love the poor and powerless because that’s what Jesus did and calls us to do.
“Losing” by Tenth Avenue North – This song has helped me get through those dark seasons.
“Closer” by Bethel Music – Our desire and love Him more and to be closer to Him. That’s always my prayer. I stray from Him but want to be close.

Favorite bible verse is John 3:30. “He must increase. I must decrease.” This verse keeps my desire to serve the Lord close.This verse keeps me humble. This verse is how I try to live my life, not for myself, but for Him. Now, do I always do that? I fail everyday. That is why I need Him. That is why He must increase.

Thanks so much to PJ for answering some questions! I’m looking forward to attending his album release show in a couple weeks! Maybe I’ll see some fellow Nashvillians there, as well!

If you want to keep up with PJ’s music, check out his website and be sure follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

Freak-outs and Faith: Learning to Trust in Uncertain Times

8 Sep

IMG_0565.JPG

Hello, family and friends! It’s good to be getting back into the blogging world! I kind of took an unplanned break for most of the summer, so I figured I’d catch everyone up on a little bit of what’s been going on…

The following paragraphs were actually written about two months ago and I never clicked the ol’ “publish” button. I think it’s worth sharing to see the mental roller coaster I’ve been riding in my head!

Every 2-3 months, I tend to get stressed and overwhelmed about finances and other circumstances. About 90 percent of the time, I’m genuinely feeling like, “Life is good. I’m blessed. Things are great,” and then I have a few days or more when my mind goes into overdrive. I’m suddenly aware of ways that I’m “not enough.” The house isn’t clean enough, my face isn’t clear enough, I don’t make enough money, I don’t have enough time, etc. My jaw sets into a semi-permanent clench for a couple days and my neck and shoulder muscles tighten. It’s no wonder that I have a history of TMJ and migraines.

These short-lived, usually minor, quarterly freak-outs have resulted in various outcomes ranging from the start of my coupon obsession to pre-term labor. Yes, I actually started bleeding and had contractions the very next morning after a teary-eyed Sunday stressing about our family’s financial situation with a new baby on the way. Fortunately, my early labor was stopped during a 3-day stay in the hospital, but it resulted in over two months of bed rest in 2011. I can’t help but think that the two were related.

This stressful patch is lasting a little longer than usual, although I’m learning to try be patient, trust, and sit in the “uncomfortable.” I really feel that God is using this time of transition for a purpose, as He often does! We’ve made it through many times before, so I know this time will be no different. With our oldest starting Kindergarten this fall at a Catholic school (as if tuition isn’t already outrageous, the darn cost of uniforms is going to put me over the edge), looking at our futures career-wise, and brainstorming opportunities for additional income, there doesn’t seem to be a quick solution. I do kind of feel that Adam and I are at a crossroad moment in our lives. There’s no way we can continue much longer the way things are right now. Coupons aren’t cutting it anymore.

I do have to take a time-out for a minute, to recognize that we really have been blessed with our current work-family situation. I work at a faith-based agency with a lot of great people. Adam has been able to work second shift and partial weekends to be with our girls during the day. While this has been amazing during this phase of our lives, we’re starting to look towards the near future and how we need to adapt to the next phase that includes a Catholic school education for our girls. I understand that this is our choice, but after much prayer and discussion we feel it is the best one for our family and we are willing to look at what we can do to make this happen long-term.

My mind has been swirling with ideas and possibilities. Pursue grant-writing? Take classes to get a paralegal certificate? Start one of the website concepts I’ve been pondering? Find a higher paying job in my field? I don’t just want to make money, though – I want to do something that’s meaningful. Adam is looking into getting more jingle work and waiting on a possible promotion and shift-change in a year or two at his job. What direction is the right way to go?

Now you may know why I’ve been a little quiet on the blog the past month or so… Most of my time in the evenings has been spent brainstorming, researching, and tv-watching to reduce stress. I didn’t even fill out a monthly goal sheet for June! ūüė¶ I started out the year so full of intention and I have accomplished a lot of the goals I set for myself for 2014, but sometimes, er, maybe often times, I have to let go of my plans! And, I’m trying to be okay with where I am. God does have a plan, and right here, right now is part of it.

Although, I must say I can’t wait to be able to look back and say, “Ah, that’s what that time was for!” But for now, I’m listening! God, my ears and eyes are open! Holy Spirit please show me the path to follow and give me the courage to do your will!

Well, fast forward another couple months and I’m brimming with excitement and joy over a new project passion that I’ve been wanting to jump into but kept finding reasons to prolong (time, money, lack of experience, doubt, fear, insecurity, etc.). After reading Dr. Gregory Popcak’s book, The Life God Wants You to Have: Discovering the Divine Plan When Human Plans Fail and starting Holley Gerth’s book, You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has For You, I feel re-energized and confident to take some steps in faith. Take that, fear and doubt! A good rule-of-thumb that both authors point out to keep in mind when considering a dream, is to contemplate if it is helping others. (I highly, highly recommend both of these books by the way!)

What’s the project, you may ask? I don’t want to give too much away yet, but it has to do with music. And let’s just say, many things have been falling into place ever since I made up my mind to take this path that I feel called to pursue. Things like, Catholic artists contacting me to review their music, Adam being given a professional recording desk for free and getting a great deal on the recording gear that he needs and paying for it all from ebay profits (nothing out of our bank account)! Also, a Catholic father, who stumbled upon my blog, just reached out to us a few days ago about Adam possibly recording a song that was written about his beautiful 4-year-old daughter who died last year. (More to come on this family’s tragic and touching story at a later date.) There are some other things that have had the Holy Spirit’s “fingerprints” all over them, as well, and I’m absolutely overwhelmed with it all – in a good way!

I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I am looking for opportunities, not excuses! There’s just no way that I can’t not do it! I’ve waited a long time to truly find a passion and a niche. I think I’ve found it and the best thing is that it overlaps with my husband’s gifts and calling. I have no idea where exactly this is all going to go or what’s going to blossom, but with God leading us, I know it’s the best thing. I hope to be unveiling the start of this journey very soon!

It’s good to be back to writing again. Please fill me in on what you’ve been up to this summer! I have a lot of catching up to do and I’d love to hear from you!

Be a Sheep

14 May

Shepherd with SheepSource

Last Tuesday, Adam excitedly called me about a Catholic Answers Live podcast episode he was in the middle of listening to. Host Patrick Coffin was interviewing Catholic country artist, Collin Raye, about his new book, A Voice Undefeated, and the state of the music industry in Nashville right now. It was so refreshing to hear him speak on a lot of the same things that Adam has expressed frustration about, like how hard it is to get any songs of substance cut right now!

To listen to this podcast with Collin Raye that originally aired May 12th, click here.

Later that night, after I had an opportunity to listen to it myself we talked on the phone about it and, again, about figuring out what steps God wants us to pursue… It’s easy to get overwhelmed when looking at the big picture and the work and time a music ministry would take, especially when we work opposite schedules and have two young children. Things seem impossible to even think about. We ended with the conclusion that we need to keep bringing our fears honestly before the Lord and continue to pray and be open to God’s will. We need to focus on one step at a time. Listening to this podcast, though, was definitely some sort of step on the journey.

Before I went to bed, I read the gospel reading (John 10:22-30) and meditation for the day in The Word Among Us. No surprise – it totally went along with what we had just been discussing. Here’s a little snippet of the meditation for May 13:

…he wants you to become more sheeplike: more single-minded in faith, more reliant on him, more “helpless.” He wants you to learn to rest in his salvation and trust him more fully…

Spend some time today thinking about being a sheep. Watch and listen for messages from the world and from your own heart that urge you to be independent, to take care of yourself. Are you listening to those messages more than to the messages that come from the Good Shepherd? He truly does love and care for you so let him make you more and more like one of his trusting, obedient sheep.

Often times, I think we feel like we need to do something- anything- to make our dreams happen. Yes, we need to put forth a lot of effort, but sometimes we are just spinning our wheels. Being busy makes us feel like we are making progress, but it is just wasted energy if we’re not following and trusting God’s path for us.

I love the image of being a sheep! It can be so hard to let go of the illusion of control, but there is so much peace and freedom in letting our Good Shepherd lead us! He wants what is best for us and will not lead us astray!

We are working on knowing when to wait for God’s hand and when it may be fear that is holding us back. I pray that the Lord will lead these two aspiring sheep to what he has called us to do and that we may follow! I also pray for any of you sheep who are reading this! I’m so inspired by the commitment and example of so many who are responding to God’s will for their lives! Thank you for your courage!

Adam Shick at Nashville Catholic Underground: Recap

1 May

20140501-210701.jpgAdam accompanied by Jon Conley (Guitarist for Kenny Chesney)

This past Saturday, Adam played a set at Saint Mary of the Seven Sorrows for the monthly Catholic Underground event in downtown Nashville! He hadn’t played a show for awhile and was a little concerned about whether or not his voice would last for an hour-long set, especially after doing an afternoon rehearsal with amazing guitar player, Jon Conley. (Adam played with him while on the road in Emma Jacob’s band a few years ago.) Fortunately, his voice was just fine! I’m certain the Holy Spirit was helping him out! ūüôā

20140501-210722.jpgBustin’ out a note… and, yes, he got to sign the backdrop! ūüôā

Adam sang mostly originals, but mixed in a Coldplay cover and a NEEDTOBREATHE cover. He wrapped up the night with a Lean on Me/This Little Light of Mine/You are My Sunshine Medley! Everybody was singing and clapping along, so it was a great way to end! Here’s the link to the video! Oh, and you have to hear what he did with the last note, because it totally caught me by surprise. Dude is awesome!

20140501-210711.jpgSitting on Grandpa’s lap, watching Daddy sing one of her favorite songs (with favorite stuffed animal “Monkey”)!

We let our almost-five-year-old stay up that night to watch her daddy perform! She loved it, although she was exhausted! We’re so excited that a good number of our family and friends could come out! Even one of our high school friends who was in town for a bachelor party stopped by!

As usual, we’re contemplating how God wants Adam to move forward with his music… first thing is to get his record done!!! At least we have the website up-and-going: adamshickmusic.com! It’s a start!

Woohoo! Almost TGIF! Have a great weekend, y’all!

 

7 Quick Takes #12

28 Feb

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about cool book moments, bestseller bling, overcommitting myself (again), and doing a 5K in a palanquin

It has definitely been eons since I did a 7 Quick Takes link-up at Conversion Diary, so I’m excited to join the crew of bloggers who are part of the 7 Posts in 7 Days¬†challenge!

{1}

I love Cristina’s blog, Filling My Prayer Closet! When I was stalking browsing earlier this week, I noticed that she had a blog button on her sidebar about her word for the year. I clicked on it and it took me to One Word 365 where I was able to sign up and create my own blog button using my chosen word for 2014- #intentional! It was neat to see that several others had chosen the same word!

20140225-132850.jpg

{2}

On Wednesday, I was able to meet one of my previous Dreamers in the Spotlight and former professional basketball player, Jennifer Risper. {Blogger fail – I didn’t get a photo!}¬†She is a Varsity Catholic missionary with FOCUS and she needs donations to continue to do this work on college campuses. To check our her FOCUS page, click here!

{3}

Natural sign of love - heart made from small tomatoesSource: Piku

I really want to start a small garden this spring. I’m not known for keeping plants alive, but I would love to grow my own vegetables and I think my girls would love to help, too!

Any gardeners out there? Any tips on vegetables to try first? I’m thinking tomatoes, summer squash, peppers, and green beans… ¬†I plan to square-foot gardening, I think! I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible!

{4}

I’m a big fan of the Enneagram. I’ve mentioned it on my blog before, but have never really done a thorough post on it. ¬†Being someone that majored/minored in three different areas of behavioral sciences, I’m highly intrigued by personality stuff and why people do what they do!

Fellow Nashville blogger, Leigh Kramer, has been doing a great series called The Enneagram and Blogging! I’m without a doubt a Type 1 and it was interesting to see how that relates to my blogging style and purpose! If you don’t already know your personality type there are tests to take to determine what number you are! Leigh does a great job of explaining it here. I’ve had Fr. Richard Rohr’s book, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective on my to-read list FOREVER! Probably like five years! I’ll get to it one of these days!

{5}

Earlier this week, Theresa Thomas posted a video outlining the crisis in Venezuela. She’s been doing a great job of bringing awareness to the oppression going on there. Please pray!

Caracas/Source: Wikipedia Commons

{6}

Katie at The Catholic Wife wrote this post about investing more time in our husbands instead of social media. Often times we have great status updates, but really it might mean more if we just sent a little message to our spouse instead! ¬†While I don’t live on Facebook or Twitter, there are definitely moments when I’m wasting time instead of being productive. I’m thinking of cutting a lot of social media time out for Lent…

{7}

This completes Day 5 of the 7 in 7 Challenge! Although, it’s been a little crazy this week, it has been fun writing and reading so many posts this week! There has been so much to read, though, that I’m probably going to have to spend a good part of next week catching up! Cheers to those of you slugging through the week!

7 day blog challenge 7 posts, 7 days

An Update: Adam’s Musical Journey

26 Feb

Day 3 of 7 Posts in 7 Days with Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary!

7 day blog challenge 7 posts, 7 days

I haven’t talked much about Adam and his music on this blog lately, and since I have to write everyday this week it’s probably a good time to touch base on this topic! This is called A Dreamer’s Wife after all!

Honestly, I’ve thought about whether I should even keep that domain name, because it probably seems a little misleading to visitors who pop in and check out this site. My husband hasn’t toured for over two years. Is Adam still going to pursue music? When? On what level? How come he doesn’t have an active website? Why is he a social media hermit right now? How can someone be a successful musician with a family?

I think my husband fits the title of “dreamer” perfectly, though. He has his priorities in order and is making sure that he feels led by God to really pursue this path before diving in. In his own words, “I’m an all or nothing person”. He has been very focused on being a father, husband, and full-time engineer at Soundcheck. Obviously this leaves little room for an essential thing called TIME! I know that if God is leading Adam to share his music, it will be in a way that will not jeopardize our family.

About a month ago, though, Adam did have a sort of revelation about what motivates him. The idea of recording a CD of his songs as a legacy for his daughters inspired him to really focus on getting his project together. What a tragedy it would be for these amazing songs he has written in the past few years to go unheard and be lost forever if something were to happen to him in the near future! Whatever happens with his music outside of that, is up to God! Although we both think it would be cool for him to play Catholic conferences and events like that on occasion.

Adam is no longer motivated by getting validation from strangers about his music. Many musicians and artists are desperate for fan feedback to reinforce their worth. This is why music often overshadows anything in a musician’s life – why so many marriages fall apart. Adam finds a strong purpose and mission in his vocation of fatherhood. (Disclaimer: I know that there are amazing individuals who are evangelizing and using their gifts to spread God’s message -Adam is one of them, but many more are seeking their own self-interests.)

So, right now, Adam has begun recording his EP/album (whatever it’s going to be!) in his home studio. Gotta love Pro Tools! I absolutely cannot wait until the day comes when I can start sharing some of these songs with you all! I know that it is all in God’s timing, though, and I’m trusting in Him. He is also rehearsing for his one-hour set for Catholic Underground in April. All of you Nashville people need to mark April 26th on your calendars! We’re going to bring our oldest daughter along so she can listen to her daddy play the songs she loves!

Any prayers you can throw my husband’s way as he discerns God’s plan for him in regards to his music would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Nominate Catholic Difference-Makers Under 30!

11 Oct

During one of the rare times that I have checked my Twitter feed in the past couple of weeks, I came across an amazing “contest” via @FOCUSequip yesterday!

30 under 30: Spotlighting Top Young Catholics – Nominations

FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) is looking for 30 individuals under 30 years old who are making a difference in the Catholic Church and changing the world!

This is so up my alley! Although it was hard to choose only one, I just finished nominating Tori Harris, who I featured as my Dreamer in the Spotlight in August.

I know us fellow bloggers are inspired by so many of our peers, so let’s recognize them! Please consider nominating a special young adult who is committed to allowing God to work through him/her to reach others!

I hope my excitement is oozing out of this post, because I. AM. VERY. EXCITED. about this! I love sharing and reading about people who are dreaming big and doing God’s will! I will definitely be following up on the chosen 30!

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to nominate someone!!

Tori Harris: Music Missionary {August’s Dreamer in the Spotlight}

30 Aug

tori harrisI am really excited to feature this month’s Dreamer in the Spotlight – Catholic musician,¬†Tori Harris!¬†This “music missionary for a new generation of faithful”¬†is definitely using her gifts for God and inspiring others to do the same!

Over the weekend, Tori found time to answer some questions in the midst of speaking and singing at Immaculee Ilibagiza’s “Treasures of our Faith” retreat. (Side note: If you haven’t read Immaculee’s book, Left to Tell, about her experience during the Rwanda genocide,¬†please do. It is a life-altering read!)

1. You released your beautiful EP, Adoremus, earlier this year. What does the rest of 2013 have in store for you and your music? 
Thank you so much! This year has been such a whirlwind of blessings and surprises. It seems that everything is moving so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. I’ve got a few big media events happening in the Fall. National Worship Leader Magazine is featuring my song, “Face to Face” on their songDISCovery disk, I’ll be interviewed on Catholic TV at least 3 times, and there is a bunch of radio lining up. This summer I took a leap of faith and began playing music full-time, so, by the grace of God I’ll continue to stay on the road with a heavy tour schedule and this Fall, the hope is to take a few weeks off to go back into the studio and start putting together the next project. Over the past 2 years I’ve had the honor of writing with some INCREDIBLE songwriters and I can’t wait to give these songs some legs and watch how they do on a CD. But ultimately, providence determines what I’m doing and where the music is going. So, the hope is to do these things, but the reality is that, at all times, God is in control and I can only do that which He permits.¬†
2. Since beginning your journey of pursuing Christian music for the New Evangelization, do you have a favorite “God-moment” that stands out?¬†
That’s a hard question because there have been so many. One that really continues to teach and speak to me was this Easter. At the time I was really struggling to financially stay afloat and still do music, but I had a bunch of shows lined up and my only opportunity to earn money would be through CD and merchandise sales. I didn’t have any money for merchandise, so we charged the credit card. All in all, the expenses totaled about $2000. I had no plan for how I was going to pay off the debt, I was just confident that this was an investment I needed to make. A week later, just as I finish praying with my mom on the phone about where the money is going to come from, I met some friends for lunch. When I walked into the restaurant, there was a check for $2000 sitting on my plate. The wife of the couple looked at me and said, “Now what you see before you isn’t a gift from me, but from the Holy Spirit. I don’t know why you need this money, but I’m certain you need it. Jesus wants you to have it.” I held my composure through the lunch, but as soon as I got back to my car I wept for about 30 minutes. To be loved so lavishly by Christ touches one of the deepest longings of the human heart – and my God loves each of His creatures that much and more.¬†
Tori Harris/Courtesy of toriestories.com
3. I love your guest post on Ryan Eggenberger.com where you shared your story of facing fear and discovering God’s purpose for you. Please elaborate on how you use fear and insecurity to guide you.¬†
When I talk to young people I find myself repeating, “the battlefield for the soul is fought in the mind.” Extraordinary circumstances aside, the devil most often attacks us through our thoughts, especially the thoughts and stories we tell ourselves. Scripture is very clear that the emotions of fear, doubt, insecurity and anxiety are birthed in Hell and thus NOT from Heaven. When you apply this knowledge to the fact that the devil attacks that which is most Holy and most good – you quickly realize that if you are feeling doubt, fear, anxiety or insecurity, that you are likely in thought or action, doing something very good and very holy. You see, our God is SO good. He desires to pour into us the deepest desires of our heart. He has organized the universe very intentionally and very exactly so that He can present to us our hearts deepest desire. The devil knows this and can’t stop it. He can’t change the universe… but he can cloud our thoughts with lies. Lies of fear, insecurity, anxiety and doubt. When the devil does this, it isn’t the universe that ceases to move, but us. We cease to move. And when we cease to act, we cease to have faith, because what is faith but our RESPONSE to love. I’m learning again and again, that fear is affirmation that I’m doing something right, that I MUST keep moving. And every time I recognize it and walk forward, stepping into the fear, I watch as God’s perfect love casts it out, and another part of my soul heals, and I am able to know love just a little more intimately.¬†
4. I read on your website that you give a 40-minute talk titled “Discerning God’s Call in Your Life.” What advice do you have for those of us who are searching for our passion and purpose?
I’ll give you discernment cliff notes:¬†
1. Make a list of all the things you’re insecure about, all the things you’re afraid of. (I’ll never be thin enough, No one will ever marry me and I’ll end up alone, the ladies at church judge me and don’t want to spend any time with me)¬†
2. Make a list of your hearts deepest desires. (This is the most difficult of all the steps. If you feel stupid, dumb, afraid and hope no one ever sees this list, then you’re doing it right)¬†
3. Go through the second list, your heart’s deepest desires, and ask yourself “do any of these desires violate God’s law?” If it violates God’s law scratch it off the list.¬†
4. Compare the two lists. If you see any parallels (For example, I am insecure about my singing voice and my deepest desire to stand on stage at Church and cantor) then prioritize those desires first
5. Act. Face your fear, step into your insecurity, and act. Follow the desire. Just do it. 
6. Marvel at what God does next. Because what He will do will change your heart and life forever. 
 
In the words of St. Teresa of Avila, “if you become only what God intended you to be, then you will set the world on fire” – I think it’s about time we had more souls setting the world on fire.¬†
Photo by Joy Williams/Courtesy of toriestories.com
5. Do you have any favorite songs, verses, books, or movies that inspire and motivate you?
Good art and culture always inspire. The book that changed my life was “Abandonment to Divine Providence” by Jean Pierre de Caussade. I read and re-read that book and every time, the truth it contains etches itself more intimately upon my heart. If you’re afraid of making a radical change in your life, this is the book that will give you the courage to leave everything you know, take up your cross and follow Christ.¬†
Thanks, Tori, for taking the time to share your journey and your wisdom with us! Great stuff!
***
 Adoremus - EP, Tori Harris
For more, be sure to…
Checkout Tori’s website.
Download her music on iTunes.
Follow Tori on Twitter.
Like her Facebook page.
Watch the Face to Face music video on YouTube.

Dear NFP, Let’s Be Honest.

23 Jul

rings

Dear Natural Family Planning,

Let’s be honest.

Sometimes I don’t like you. You frustrate me.

Like when I was so¬†worried about¬†getting pregnant right after the birth of my second daughter, that my husband and I didn’t get close, if you know what I mean, for about five months. Needless to say, this was not a fun time.

Or how my cycles have a very short infertile timeframe each month.

I hate how¬†ignorant the majority of the¬†medical community is about you.¬†Sometimes it¬†makes me feel embarrassed, like when the OB/GYN’s nurse asked me¬†if you were like the Rhythm method. Or, even though my doctor knows I’m using you, she still tells me at my follow-up delivery appt.¬†to use a condom until my period returns to make sure I don’t come back into her office with a surprise pregnancy.

But you know what, NFP? More than you (or rather, factors surrounding you i.e., my lack of knowledge, my body, others)¬†frustrate me, I’m so thankful for you!

I feel blessed that my husband and I cherish and value the¬†time we get together. I know that our odds for separation decrease significantly because we use you. I know that¬†we’re being open to life if that is¬†God’s will, even though we’re not trying to have another baby at this time.

I’m grateful that I’m not putting any life-destroying chemicals in my body that could also cause serious health complications and even my death. I am confident in knowing what’s normal for my body and would¬†be able¬†to detect any unusual changes or symptoms. I also know that if Adam and I feel that God is calling us to have another child in the future, it will be easier for us to achieve pregnancy. Thank you for being a method that embraces my femininity instead of trying to suppress it!

I’m thankful for people who have been able to¬†develop methods using¬†science and technology for more peace of mind. You are definitely not the rhythm method! I want to use you accurately (which, thanks to using the Marquette model, has been easier than ever), so that I can show people that you are good, smart,¬†and 99% effective at avoiding pregancy. But¬†as much as I want to do that,¬†I’d know that¬†a baby conceived¬†during a typically infertile time would be a miracle and blessing from God.

I’ve been blessed with two beautiful little girls, who I can’t imagine my life without! Neither one was necessarily deliberately¬†planned, especially the youngest due¬†to a wonderful “mistake” on my part. (I should have waited the more conservative four days after peak day instead of three to assume Phase 3 – Thank the Lord, I didn’t!)

I wish more people¬†were aware of, and¬†open to,¬†your goodness and benefits. God’s way is never easy, but it is certainly freeing! Thanks, NFP, for teaching¬†my husband and I how to be more¬†selfless.

With much appreciation and loyalty,

Stefanie

***

Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is July 21-27.

For more information on NFP, check out:

The Couple to Couple League

iuseNFP

Women Speak on Natural Family Planning Series

Also, be sure to check out other NFP Week posts at NFP and Me!