JP2 to the Rescue: Healing My Treehugger Theology

I didn’t believe in God until I was 15.

I was raised Catholic and got dragged to Mass and religious education and I hated it. I went to public school preK-8. By the time I went to a Catholic high school I was already formed in my beliefs.

What did I believe?

All my life I loved animals and Nature more than anything. I planned on spending my life doing conservation and working to save animals and the environment. I was into Greenpeace, recycling, living in harmony with Nature. I was a card-carrying member of the Audubon Society.

Be Not Afraid: Accepting the Challenge from JP2

I believe that Pope John Paul II was one of the greatest Popes to have ever served the Church. History has shown him to be a man who can be all things to all people. He was an athlete, an actor, a writer, a priest, a bishop, an activist, and most of all a follower of Christ. He was a man who was deeply in love with Christ and the Church. He was willing to do whatever it took to lead the faithful into the victory that Christ has won for us.

In terms of leadership and bravery, William Wallace has nothing on this guy. During the years of Pope John Paul II’s service to the Church, he encountered many things that would make the average person run and hide:

25 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years

Afterall, I was born in the 80’s. That pretty much makes me ancient. (I was around the first time slap bracelets were a thing.) And as an ancient, blog-writing, birthday girl, my gift to you is 25 pieces of advice that I’ve learned in my 25 years.

I’m Sorry I Walked By: An Open Letter to Peter

I don’t know how many thousands of people walked by you, never looking at you, even turning their eyes away from you. I don’t know how many people insulted you to your face and behind your back. I don’t know your past, where you had been, or what brought you to that corner on that day.

All I know is that I was one of those thousands of people who just walked by.

Confessions of a (Reformed) Catholic Hipster

I loved (and still love) being Catholic. I loved belonging to my parish, to my youth group, to the choir, and to the picnic committee. I wanted to be involved in anything that allowed me to express my faith. However, I now realize that sometimes my zeal for my faith made me act like I was part of an exclusive club — not the Body of Christ on earth, commissioned to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

A Beautiful Offering: Choosing to Glorify God in Our Suffering

“Just get over it.” Sadly we hear phrases such as these from our friends in answer to our suffering. I don’t think these are the words anyone wants to hear when they are suffering, having a bad day, or feeling down. I love a lot of things about the Catholic Church, but one thing I […]

What Are You Living For?: A Letter from Heaven

What if I told you that your life was halfway over? I’m guessing you’re 15 or 16, maybe 17 years old. What if I told you that your life expectancy was to live until you were 32 years old? I know what you’re thinking – “dude, most people live past 32. You’re being way over-dramatic.” […]

3 Promises That Will Change Your Life

These promises changed my life. Don’t rationalize or make excuses for yourself. Push yourself a bit, work a little longer, sacrifice something else, persist, and persevere! Following through on these promises will not only bring you joy, but freedom to live the life God is calling you to!

The Sidewalk Missionary: My Divine Appointment from Finland

It was a scorching hot summer day. We left the shade of the high Barcelona city buildings and crossed over a plaza on our way to the pier. It was while we were joking around, probably complaining about the heat and our naive decision not to bring water bottles that God provided a divine appointment.

He Keeps Me Safe

All I’ve ever wanted out of my relationships is to feel safe.

I’m always worried that I’ll make someone so angry that they won’t want to have anything to do with me. I want to know that I’m worth someone’s time and effort; that they’ll stick around when things get rough.

But people always fall short. We’re imperfect and broken and there’s no escaping that. Show me someone who’s got it together all the time and I’ll show you someone who’s wearing a mask. People are unpredictable and it’s scary.

An Open Letter to Brent: On the Power of Words

Dear Brent, My first year at Life Teen I was the awkward freshman in the corner of the room, trying to go unnoticed, so I understand if you didn’t see me. I saw you, though. You were a confident senior and the center of attention. It seemed like everyone admired you, and with good reason. […]

In Name Only?: When Your Catholic School Isn’t Very Catholic

“All-school Mass today? Sweet, that means no math class first period!”“Pro-Life March? You mean three days off school and a trip to D.C.!”“Would anyone like to say a prayer to start class?” *crickets*Man . . . do any Catholics even go to this school?!I went to Catholic schools my entire life, and I’m not gonna lie: sometimes, I wondered. It often felt like we were Catholic in name only – and even then, it’s not like we wrote it boldly across our t-shirts.

I’m Walking Away: Standing up against Immorality

I’ve always lived a rather sheltered life. I was raised Catholic and sent to Catholic School — there was never any moment when my faith and belief in God was truly tested. But now that I’ve entered college and am studying at a school that’s far from Catholic, within the first week of orientation God […]

When God is Second

A few years ago I felt my relationship with God was kind of “meh” so I asked a priest I knew, Father Chris, for advice. “Are you attending mass every day?” Father Chris asked. Keep in mind, I worked at a church that offered mass twice a day. All I had to do was walk […]

Goodbye Know-It-All

Throughout my whole life, I can regrettably say that I have been that judgmental and know-it-all person, almost always seeing myself in the right, and ready to give my opinion and tell others when I’m right and they’re wrong. There was this intense desire for me to be right, because in my mind, being right […]

Epic. Fail.

To say that I have occasionally messed up or made poor decisions is an understatement. As I think about all the mistakes or bonehead moves I have made, I am humbled and constantly reminded that I am not perfect. There was that time where the snow bank blew up as a result of throwing dry […]

The Pope and The Pilgrims

As most of you know, there was an event last month that was a pretty big deal in the Catholic Church. It was a gathering of more than 3,000,000 people in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil called World Youth Day. Every couple years this incredible week of catechesis, celebrating the sacraments, and much more allows young […]

Shark Week Scares

It’s finally here. The week that the Discovery Channel brings us marathon programming meant to help us better understand sharks. As I write this, a great white shark the size of a Winnebago is chomping a seal in half while guys in windbreakers film on a rocking boat. My favorite part of shark week is […]

What Fealess Doesn’t Mean

I can see it now . . . You and your friend at the zoo near the lion’s cage. “I dare you to feed your hamburger to the lion through the cage.” “No way!” “C’mon! Be fearless! Isn’t that what this year’s theme is all about?” Although my name is Mark, let me be frank […]

How to Have an Awesome Life

When I think about, some of the best things that I have experienced in life … I said, 'yes' to. I said 'yes' to being on a soccer team, I said 'yes' to going on a mission trip, I said 'yes' to a relationship with Christ.

I have seen over and over that one of the main reasons people feel isolated and don’t have the kind of friendships, relationships, or community they want in their lives is that they habitually say “no” to invitations and opportunities to be around people and interact with people. They say “no” so often and so consistently that it’s become a habit they don’t even know they have.