GOD IS EVERYTHING!
As a new Catholic Christian in 2008, I began to go to daily Holy Mass, with my youngest (4 years old) son in tow. I knew I had personally encountered Jesus in the New Age temple (you can read that here) a couple years prior and He confirmed for me in a mystical and most profound way that it was truly Him that I was looking for.
So now, receiving the Holy Eucharist and kneeling next to my little boy, every single day - I gave Jesus my whole heart. I prayed for three things:
1- Give me Your wisdom, Lord. I quit high school in 10th grade, eventually got my GED and did sporadic classes in community colleges through the years, and even though I was street smart, I felt in comparison to others, quite stupid. I honestly thought that if I asked God for His wisdom, He could make me "smart."
2- Let me love every single person I encounter like You love them, Jesus. My heart was so full of woundedness and anger, hatred and judgement that it hurt for it to even beat in my chest. I wanted that pain to stop and I thought that if He infused His heart into mine, then mine would automatically feel better.
3- Make me Your Saint, Oh God! I had constantly felt shameful about who I was, what had happened to me, and what I had done to others. When coming into the Church I was asked to pick a patron saint; and it was then that I learned that a saint was someone who was extraordinarily good and lived a holy life. I really wanted God to turn my shameful, unholy life into something beautiful, not just to see, but most especially to feel and share.
Little did I know the connection between my "beginner" prayers and THE WAY OF THE CROSS until now. Because learning the way of the cross has truly helped me understand how God answers our prayers.
Jesus is our example. Everything He did was for me (and you). So that means that it is in being arrested, wrongfully accused, scourged and beaten, crowned with thorns, abandoned and mocked, and finally crucified that we eventually gain what we have asked God for.
The way of the cross = answered prayers.
And in my case --> wisdom, unconditional love and holiness and eventually eternity in His presence. Because what my earlier prayers have taught me is that through God answering them I am learning a faith like Job. That no matter what happens to me here in this world - GOD IS MY EVERYTHING!
There is no other way to the Resurrection except through the Last Supper, Passion, Crucifixion and Burial. That is where God answers our prayers - that is where we find eternal life with Him!
So Lord, I come to You yet again and I ask You to continue Your work in me...
Grant me Your WISDOM...
Give me Your HEART...
Make me Your SAINT.
Accompany me to Your Cross and
continue to give me the strength I need to endure it.
On this International Day of Women, I want to recognize and celebrate Mary.
The young girl Mary, who was frightened and confused, believed the angel who appeared to her and said Yes! to God to carry His son. Heavenly Father, please give me the trust and courage of Mary, most especially in times when I feel frightened and confused.
The wife and mother Mary, who with the knowledge of how great her Son truly is, was a spouse to Joseph and mother to this growing boy without knowing the when and where of His mission. Heavenly Father, please give me the humility and perseverance of Mary, most especially in times when I lack the patience I need to continue in Your will for my life.
The unwavering disciple Mary, who even though she was his parental authority, followed Jesus and was constantly by his side, most especially at His death. Heavenly Father, please give me the strength, hope and grace to endure the hardest of trials, that like Mary, when everything around me in this world seems dim and hopeless, that I stand at the foot of your Holy Cross and trust in You. Amen.
This is the woman I long to be.
This is true trust, courage, humility, perseverance, strength, hope and grace.
This is the feminine genius You have created all of us women to be!
Pregnant: ColorsbyNatalie Etsy Shop
Mom and Son: Jon McNaughton, Child of Mine
Foot of the cross: Unknown
February 2, 2023 was our 21st sacramental wedding anniversary. It is the day each year we bless our marriage bed.
Because Satan hates my husband, he hates me and he hates our one flesh union in the sacrament of marriage. His goal is to see our souls kicked into the eternal fire of damnation and he will stop at nothing to try and accomplish his goal.
He thought he had us earlier on. He thought he had my husband shackled with the chains of pornography. He thought he had me suffocated by the wounds of child sexual trauma and rape.
But our sacramental marriage broke those chains and God’s healing power, love and grace has destroyed Satan’s hold over us. But the battle is not over. Until each of our final breaths, Satan will continue to try to trick and deceive us into falling away from God.
Get behind us Satan!
Through the power of the precious blood of Jesus, we bless this bed and declare fully that we denounce all of your evil ways. We denounce the demons of pornography and lust. We denounce the demons of sexual deviancy and disorder. We denounce the demons who enter in through unhealed woundedness.
Truth be told, the healing of my and my husband’s woundedness took many years. The world is constantly telling my husband that there is nothing wrong with pornography. The world is constantly telling me that I will never be able to heal completely from my sexual traumas.
Lies. Lies. Lies.
On this 21st wedding anniversary, we stand over this bed, which is A BATTLEGROUND FOR GOD, and declare our lives to continue to serve Him through one another. Never to hurt, never to part and to see the other one over the threshold of eternity. Self-giving and fully trusting in the One Flesh that God has created in us to get us Home to Him.
The Holy Spirit has moved me to share our Blessing Prayer with you. I encourage you as husband and wife to bless and pray over your marriage bed. It may not be your wedding anniversary, but St. Valentine's Day is quickly approaching and that would make a great day to do it too!
“You are my center, my balance, my foundation, without you, We can’t. Without you, We aren’t. And We is a very special thing to be. We is what He wants. We is what He has joined. We is what He has commanded us to be." - Charlie to Jessica (circa 2007ish)
My family is multi-racial.
I am “white”
My hubby is “brown”
My kids are “mixed”
My granddaughter is “black”
I have a stepmom who is “yellow”
You name the color, and we got it in my family.
We are all different colors, different races and different cultures.
Yesterday, I tripped on unlevel concrete and took a nasty fall. The palms of my hands took the brunt of it and got banged up pretty bad. Tore off skin, bleeding, pebble embedded into flesh I had to remove with tweezers., etc. Ouch!
But once I did that and cleaned my wounds, I reached into our medicine cabinet to grab some bandages. I reached in my “diversity” pack of bandages and grabbed these three – all different colors. And that made me wonder….
How many households in America have a package of bandages that are multi-colored for different skin tones?
Do we have it only because we are a multi-racial family?
Should a “white” family have a box like this too, even if all of their skin is the same color?
In my opinion, YES.
A while ago I posted about multi-racial toys and how all races of people should have all colors of representation of toys. I think this falls along those same lines. Having “diversity" bandages (totally my nickname for them) in your cabinet helps keep the idea of representation and inclusivity ever present in our lives and at a pivotal time in our society. How great would it be to have your child’s friend of a different race/skin color over who needs a bandage to be able to pick one closer to their skin tone? It’s the little things that go a long way, trust me.
It also exposes your children to the inclusivity mindset of other races. If your “white“ child has only ever seen “white” skin tone bandages all their life, then what response do you think they would have when they see the “diversity" bandages for the first time?
My point being is that you do not need to personally have a multi-racial family to buy, use and support multi-racial/diversity themed products and services.
I know lately there has been a lot of hate being passed around when someone of a particular race wears, uses or participates in another culture’s stuff (cultural appropriation). And obviously, I am totally against someone making fun of a person’s race and/or culture and doing these things in a mocking and disrespectful way – but for those of us who want to show our children the beauty of these differences between us all and do it to give honor to and respect them – then by all means let’s do it! That is not appropriation, it is APPRECIATION!
My skin tone may be “white,” but I’ve lived my life around many different races and most especially different CULTURES (Italian, American Black, West Indian and I married a Hispanic). I believe there is so much more room to grow in being able to tell the difference between race and culture. Just because you are a certain skin color, doesn’t mean you have to do certain things, believe certain things, and act certain ways. Those things are related to culture, not color.
Lastly, in my opinion, DIVERSITY of THOUGHT, regardless of the color of your skin, is even more important than diversity of color! But we can tackle that one another time.
#mommaletics #randomthoughts #diversity #inclusivity #diversitybandages #diversityofthought #culturalappreciation #race #culture #multiracialfamily
Yesterday we celebrated WORLD MARRIAGE DAY and today ST. VALENTINE'S DAY! What an excellent moment to share these photos with everyone.
In celebration of our "Emerald" wedding anniversary, my husband and I stood at the same altar we stood at 20 years ago and renewed our wedding vows!
02.02.02 ---> 02.02.22
We didn't invite anyone, it was just him and I (and the people required to have a Holy Mass celebrated and a professional photographer).
We ate dinner at the top floor restaurant that we had our reception in and stayed the night in the same hotel we stayed in for the first night of our honeymoon.
We then started a road trip just as we did for our honeymoon, except this time we went South (Baja) instead of North and did it on a motorcycle instead of our car!
Holy Matrimony is to be celebrated, as it is a true gift to the world, and we had an amazing time doing just that - thanks be to God!
The life of a married couple is about what my husband always says - iron sharpening iron. (Proverbs 27:17)
Because the truth about being married is that it is not easy, it is a cross.
It is not always agreeing and even sometimes feeling like walking away - there was a time in my own marriage I thought of giving up. It is about persevering no matter what.
Because on your actual wedding day, you are truly loving and accepting the goodness of your betrothed's heart.
And being married is about reminding yourself in the hardest moments the beauty of the person/heart you married in their lowest moments too.
It's moments of disagreements and heartaches.
It's moments of pet peeves and struggles.
It is even moments of impossible feelings of how you two can both go on together.
It's the most painful experiences of your life coupled with the most joyful.
But moments are just that...a moment.
This too shall pass.
Holy Matrimony is the work of two souls joining in one flesh together to carry the CROSS of MATRIMONY and doing everything in their heart and soul to get the other one to Heaven.
#worldmarriageday #emeraldanniversary #renewalofvows #thisistwentyyears #myheartandbreath #mybestfriend #holymatrimony #letsgettoheavenbabe #crossofmatrimony #yougottaworkforit #nevergiveup
1 Corinthians 1:27-29 †
I never set out to know, love and serve God, let alone to become Catholic. I spent most of my life angry at God, upset that He would allow such terrible things to happen to me; I didn’t want anything to do with a God that would let me hurt so much. I had a lot of hurt and hate in my heart.
But eventually I came out of homelessness, escaped the abusive relationships and even met the man of my dreams! Well, truthfully I was so wounded I didn’t even know that someone like him was actually the man of my dreams – I didn’t even dream anymore. And in that relationship which turned into marriage I was being loved in a way that I had never felt before – authentically. My husband made me feel like a treasure; a beautiful flower - and as he would say - but with thorns!
Slowly I began to trust, slowly I began to care and slowly I began to heal. But I never went rushing to God. Actually, I looked elsewhere for further healing and peace. I went to secular therapy for over 7 years, studied Eastern religions and New Age spiritualities. All in search of this interior peace I so longed for. I would get so close to feeling it, but I never quite felt fully there.
Until Jesus himself called me to Him in a New Age Temple in Pacific Palisades, CA. You can read about that mystical experience here. And then I did go running to Him and found Him in the Catholic Church.
But I knew nothing. Seriously, I knew absolutely nothing about Catholicism and barely anything about Christianity. I was like a newborn child when I was obedient to Jesus Christ and came fully into His Church in May 2008. I relied solely on His Church to teach me, to guide me and to feed me – I was an ignorant, helpless infant Catholic Christian.
And in His great humor, even before I became Catholic, God arranged it somehow that I would teach Kindergarteners about him in the Catechism class on Sundays at our parish. I believe the conversation between myself and the Director of Religious Education went something like this one Sunday after Holy Mass…
DRE: “Hi Jessica! I watch you in hospitality after mass every Sunday and see how you engage with all the little children. Would you like to fill in for our Kindergarten Catechist teacher, she is going on maternity leave soon?”
Me: “Me? I am not even Catholic.”
DRE: “Oh, well…do you believe in Jesus?”
DRE: “Do you love Him?”
DRE: “They are 4 and 5 year olds, that's all you really need to know and do!”
Me: “Well, if that’s the requirement, then sure!”
And that is how my time teaching little ones about being Catholic and loving Jesus began. It was so much fun, but it was weighing on me that I knew basically nothing and so I started researching “What to teach Catholic children in Sunday School” and that is when God began teaching me.
God used me, a little one in my faith, to learn and then teach them, actual little ones in the faith!
I ended up teaching Catechism classes to little ones for 3-4 years. I created and implemented a “Little Church” program for 3-5 year olds in two different parishes. It was such a blessing and a time in my life that I truly cherish (and miss).
In looking back, it was confirmation to me that God truly calls the unqualified and then qualifies those He has called! 1 Corinthians 1:27-29†
I stumbled across this picture today. It is a picture of one of my Little Church classes and me posing together after making St. Juan Diego tilmas and taking roses to the Our Lady of Guadalupe painting in the Church. I remember that before this class I knew nothing about Our Lady of Guadalupe and that through the grace of being called by God to share Him with the little ones, I learned so much!
May God allow me to always be like these little children, always wondering and eager to know, love and serve Him all the more!
Lift High the cross!
I “rescued” this brass crucifix from an antique shop this weekend and waited to put it up until today.
Happy Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross!
It was through His passion (suffering) and death on the cross that my soul is saved!
On the holy cross Jesus said, “Forgive them Father…”
At the foot of the cross speaking to his Mother Mary and St. John he gave the world His own mother to love us.
There are many Christians who do not like and/or disagree with crucifixes, but after discerning and praying about it I realized that the cross without the CORPUS CHRISTI (the body of Christ) is just that - a cross, an ancient Roman torture pole that criminals hung from as they slowly died - many many criminals on many many crosses for many many years.
But this cross, this "criminal" was different!
The crucifix shows me the PERSON who made the SACRIFICE- He wasn't just another criminal on another cross hanging and waiting to die. He is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
And in my hardest moments, in my own sufferings, when I look upon the CRUCIFIX, seeing the PERSON and the SACRIFICE reminds me that I must take up my own cross and suffer too! And that I am never suffering alone and that my suffering now has purpose when it is joined with His.
So lift high your cross fellow Christians and declare with me the saving power of Jesus Christ!
Create in me a clean heart <3
What a blessing it was to attend a most reverent and beautiful Holy Sacrifice of the Mass this morning at St. Patrick's in Columbus, thank you Lord!
As I was sitting in the pew listening to the Holy Gospel being proclaimed, this particular Scripture (Mark 18-23 †) that was shared made its way into my heart...
“Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile."
My thoughts immediately took me to my childhood traumas - molestation, rape, abuse - all things against my control that happened TO me (my interpretation of 'enters one from outside'). That Scripture brings me peace. Many, if not all, childhood survivors experience feelings of shame and blame themselves for what happened to them. But that is a lie and when we begin to feel that way, we need to ask Jesus to rebuke those feelings and pour His Truth and peace into our hearts and minds.
The Scripture continues with...
..."but the things that come out from within are what defile." But it does not end there as it explains...
“From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”
In my own experience within myself and in serving others, I have come to learn that many of these behaviors that defile stem from unhealed woundedness from traumas. In my darkest moments - these were my behaviors. And even when I began to see more light, little by little, I still would get caught up in some of these behaviors as well.
God in this Holy Scripture is telling us that we are not what has been done to us; but we ARE responsible for what we choose to do in response. If we hold anger, resentment and malice in our hearts, then these are evils that are from within that defile us as well as others.
No matter how our hearts got dirty to begin with - we need clean hearts. <3
The great news is that He gives us everything we need to cleanse our hearts - to turn them from stone to flesh!
But we must first acknowledge our own behaviors for what they are, accept God's love and mercy in our own lives and then commit to living a life faithful to God and His decrees. This is what each and every one of us was created for.
For new, fleshy, clean hearts to know, love and serve Him. <3
I <3 Sundays.
I <3 the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
I <3 Holy Scripture.
I <3 God.
I <3 His mercy and forgiveness.
And I <3 you.
You are NOT what has happened to you, but you are responsible for what your heart does next.
Happy Sunday y'all!
#columbus #stpatrick #holymass #noshame #donotdefile #stonetoflesh #cleanheart #restlesshearts #mommaletics #forgiveness
Valedictorian to me
It is important for me to share this today. It is important for everyone but most especially all women to see this image and read these words for the sake of everyone, for the sake of the dignity of ALL persons.
This is an image of a young girl holding her high school graduation cap that she decorated. (I know her personally and have permission to share this). It includes all of the typical girly things like fur, rhinestones and pretty butterflies. But it also includes something that was not around in 1973 - ultrasound pictures. Her cap proudly includes pictures of her unborn child with the words, "I did it for us!"
This young girl is my hero and I know that her little daughter due in October will look up at her and call her hero too one day.
Why you ask?
Because in a society that tells you to terminate a life so that you can still have your "hopes and dreams and aspirations," to get an abortion so that you can "succeed," seeing this show of motherhood, of solidarity with the unborn child and quite frankly the courage of someone so young going against the tide makes me drop to my knees and thank God for His unending mercy.
Our young people today are being lied to.
Our young women today are being lied to.
Our society screams out that you cannot succeed if you get pregnant. That you cannot accomplish your dreams and aspirations if you carry a baby to full term and give birth. That you are not strong enough. That you are not brave enough. That you are not courageous enough. That we as your family and friends are not able to support you. That we as strangers are not charitable enough to support you. And instead of encouraging you to bring forth life and fulfill your dreams, our society is trying to convince you that you just cannot do it.
Well I say, "Not today Satan, not today!"
Today I show you a young woman who has embraced the life inside of her no matter her circumstances. I show you a family who has chosen to support her AND I show you a city, a state and a nation of people who are willing to step in and help her when those close to her cannot. That is the true strength and power and courage of a WOMAN. A woman in relationship with her community. She absolutely CAN do it!
I also show you the sonogram photos. The ultrasound that when introduced should have changed our minds about legal abortion, it should have revealed the truth of the humanity and personhood of the unborn fetus. But instead, we now use it to locate the unborn in the womb in order to tear it apart and discard of it. May God forgive us.
Be a mother no matter the cost if that is where you find yourself.
Knowing that the true purpose of a valedictorian speech is to INSPIRE OTHERS to go out and accomplish their goals, THIS young high school mother is a valedictorian to me!
Personally, I lost my second child to abortion.
I should have been a hero to my child just like this beautiful high school mother is to hers right now! But I wasn't.
So now I join in spirit with every teenage mother who has chosen life for her child! Please know that your decision to be strong, to be powerful and to be courageous so your child can live is a balm for my aching heart, a salve for my soul.
Your choice for life helps heal all of our broken hearts.
You are the true valedictorians, you are the true heroines of our time - our hope for the future is in you and the fruit of your courage. THANK YOU!
#motherhood #teenagepregnancy #highschoolmom #capandgown #truevaledictorian #unbornlivesmatter #strengthpowerandcourage #wecandoit #chooselife #trueheroines
I was going through old photos last week to make a video for our son's high school graduation and I found this- my high school Senior picture.
But here is the thing...I never actually graduated from high school.
That is correct. Actually, I dropped out of high school in 10th grade because I became pregnant and eventually on and off homeless.
I took some classes while pregnant in a special home for unwed pregnant teenage girls...that was awkward.
I took some classes at a high school when I was shipped out to Northern California because I was so severely abused by my boyfriend at the time that we all feared for my life...that was traumatic.
But I never graduated.
Finally, at around 20 years old and only a 10th grade education, I heeded the pleading and begging of a dear friend's mother (who was a teacher) and I took my GED exam. Thank you Ms. Gail Purvis, you were a sprinkle of hope in my life at that time.
I remember sitting in the GED counselor's office after taking the "prep test" to see if I would actually pass the GED exam or if I needed to take some classes and listening to the counselor say, "Why aren't you in high school finishing your diploma? Your scores are so high you could go to college on scholarships!"
I muttered, "No, thanks, just give me the damn test please."
And there it was. I took the GED exam and passed with a score that made the counselor shake his head as I walked out of there that day.
But I never graduated high school, so when I come across this picture I tend to laugh inside. And then it makes me sad because it reminds me that...
I have never heard the graduation march play as I walked across a stage.
I have never been on the stage, receiving my diploma and shaking someone's hand at the same time.
I have never turned and looked into the stands and smiled as all of my family screamed and cheered for me.
I have never turned my tassel or have thrown my cap up in the air.
I will never have a high school reunion.
So that is why I go big when my children do all of the things I never was able to experience. When my children walk across that stage, they take me with them in spirit - not just as a proud mother but as an 18 year old street kid who dropped out of high school but who is now living in this moment with them!
My children provide so much more for me than I could have ever imagined and I am so thankful to them, my husband and God for this amazing life I have.
Congratulations to all the graduates out there this month! Appreciate it deeply, not everyone gets a chance to experience it. You are truly blessed.
Catholic convert. Deacon's wife. Nana. Homeschoolers. Mama of 5. Advocate. Author. Speaker. Foodie. Apron wearer. (Oh I love aprons!) Don't judge.