Meet Saint (Maker) Savaryn! (& Reflections on 2020, too)

When Covid started, I kept seeing all these people getting dogs. I was like “JP, all these people are getting dogs because they’re stuck at home hahaha, how interesting is that. We will clearly never get a dog because we’ll be too busy resuming our jet-setting lifestyle as soon as this is over. Also, dogs poop all over the yard.”

And then…with 13 days to go in this difficult year, a puppy arrived at our home and joined our family. Turns out, never say never has become quite the theme in my life, in many more ways than one.

Meet Saint Maker Savaryn!

We call him Saint, but his full name is Saint Maker because he will help us grow in virtue. Also, every time we call his name, which is a lot, it’s a reminder of our main objective- to become Saints ourselves!

Saint is a fluffy cuddle ball who loves pretending he is a great hunter, cuddling, licking peoples’ faces, and sometimes tinkling on our floor.

I am not a dog person, but I’m slowly warming to him. I like seeing the kids take him outside to go to the bathroom. I don’t completely mind when he’s tired at night and rests his little warm fuzzy self on my lap. JP has promised to brush his teeth daily so he doesn’t get stinky dog breath as he gets old.

JP is very sweet with him, too. He grew up with dogs and loves them even more than I realized. It’s cute to see my full grown husband walking around with the little fluffball Saint. They’re already becoming good friends.

Reflections on the Year

There have been less distractions this year- in terms of places to go, things to do, people to see. And it’s given me so much time to look at the life right in front of my face with clarity. Because of this, one of my biggest take home messages of the year has interestingly been an intense reaffirmation of how often the most worth-it things are not the easiest.

Growing in holiness is hard, raising children is hard, writing a book is hard, loving selflessly is hard, homeschooling is hard. But they are are really, really important things that I value, and this year, I found myself often reevaluating how I can be more intentional in all of these areas. Each is an act of love, in a very particular way, so, really, with all of these things so very present, and my own flaws so very exposed, the question has truly become: how can I love better? Especially inside the domestic church that is my home.

I’m much more impatient than I would like. I grow weary quickly with my family. I can have unrealistic expectations or not give someone the benefit of the doubt. I’ve fought battles against my own insecurities this year, particularly with writing. Once- when realizing I had to undertake a huge revision on my second book- a really, really important one that would make the difference between getting the book right or not- JP found me on the floor of our closet crying a little. This story mattered so much but I didn’t know if I was good enough to do what needed to be done. I was so scared! But, in time, I stood up, pushed through the uncomfortable feelings and got to work, one word at a time. And now I’m on the other side of that revision and am so very proud and excited to share that book with the world!

Which brings me to another big takeaway of 2020. Life isn’t about avoiding uncomfortable feelings at all costs, or even about avoiding suffering. Both of those things are part of life, and this year has given us all a lot to be uncomfortable with, or to bear as suffering. We cannot avoid those things, even in a ‘normal’ year, but in 2020 we all had to confront it on a global scale. What do we do when uncertainty hits? What do we do when we suffer? How can we take those things and use them for good-or to make the world a better and more hopeful, loving place?

Happy New Year

I wish everyone who reads this blog a Happy New Year. I almost was going to wish everyone a smoother 2021, but I think it’s better to wish everyone a 2021 that brings us all closer to God, to Love, to living as Gift of Self. God knows what we need to be holy, and it’s our job to accept whatever he brings.

Even if he brings you a puppy that likes to tinkle on your floor. 🙂


Walking Through Lent During A Time of Loss

It’s been a bit quiet over here on the blog for the past few weeks. A great sadness entered into my family’s life on February 4th, and it’s taken me a while to figure out exactly what I wanted to say. It didn’t seem right to write about anything else besides this, and I felt stuck until I could find the words. But I think I might have some now.

I had a very cool aunt named Jeannine. She used to live in New York City. She was 47 years old. And, due to a very tragic mixture of difficult circumstances and struggles, my very cool aunt chose to end her life on the evening of February 4th.

There has been an ocean of sadness as our family copes with this loss. I have never been so closely touched by suicide, and I hope to never experience this pain again. I know in time the acuteness of the suffering will fade, but the struggle and sadness from this loss will last a lifetime.

We’re left with so many unanswered questions. We know she struggled with addiction, and mental distress, and that she searched for good, but lost herself sometimes along the way. We just never in a million years would have expected it to come to this. We will deeply miss the beautiful person she was, and mourn the memories that will never be made.

Right now, I’m thankful for the moments of good. The snuggles from my kids. An evening eating chocolate and watching a TV show and talking with my husband. A moment at work where I am helpful to a teacher. Writing words.

But in it all, I have not felt close to God. And I think it’s important to be honest about that, because it is the reality of my current situation.

How odd this is all happening during Lent. I told a friend recently that I identify more with Jesus’ 40 days in the desert now than I ever have. Lent feels like a desert to me. Dry and barren and merciless. I see mirages in the distance. Moments when I forget this happened, and imagine my aunt is still out there, somewhere I could visit or give her a call. But, like mirages, the moments fade and in the sunlight, our new reality is blindingly clear.

I may not feel like God is near, I may not feel close to Him. But that doesn’t mean He isn’t there. God doesn’t exist or not exist depending on me.

So, right now, I’m going to Mass. I’m saying prayers. And none of this is because I feel it is true. It’s because I believe it is true regardless of how I feel.

I look forward to the day when I’ve emerged from these tumultuous seas. But it’s a process. And I trust my God is patient. And there. Whether I feel Him or not.

He doesn’t change like I do. And I know He won’t let me go.

On Easter Vigil, I will be at Mass, standing with my mother as her sponsor as she is confirmed into the Catholic Church.

And oh, I hope and pray that the power of Easter Sunday breaks through me. That it finds its way past the numbness and the anger and the pain. That the power of the hope of all things one day being made right will reverberate inside me and settle in my soul. For my aunt, and for us all. The hope that she is at peace, tucked safely in the arms of Love Itself. And that those of us left reeling from this loss will find our way back there as well.


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The Hidden Blessing in Waiting to Tell My Story

The Dream

Things I thought would happen after I told people I was becoming Catholic:

People would ask “why,” then sit, leaning forward, eyes wide as I told the whole story. The story of all my misconceptions, and all the truth and beauty I’d found. They’d ask questions to better understand, and they’d start seeking answers for themselves.

Lines would form outside RCIA.

Things would be said. Things like: “Wait, that’s actually what the Catholic Church believes? That’s nothing like I thought. That sounds awesome. How can I learn more?”

The Reality

Well… as excited as I was… things didn’t happen like I dreamed. I laugh about it now. Things didn’t even come close.

Things were said. Words were used like ‘concern,’ ‘different gospel,’ and ‘not Christian.’ The occasional, and very welcome ‘I’m happy for you” was said as well.

But few people asked ‘why.’ Very few people were curious to hear the story of how I’d come to this place. It was a story I wanted so badly to tell.

I wanted to share with everyone all the answers I had found to questions that had burned inside me for years.

I was so excited. But how would I tell my story? And to whom? I would be lying if I said I wasn’t discouraged at that time. I finally had something I wanted to shout from the rooftops. But at times it felt like there was no one around for miles and miles.

So, I changed my proverbial tune.

I started the Protestant Interrupted blog to document the process, and to process the process as I went through it. I had JP’s family, and some of my own, as a sounding board. But a lot of the journey was walked through relatively alone, for both JP and I.

I love writing. And I found I loved writing about my faith. So, after Confirmation, I continued to write. We transitioned to this blog and I shared my story in snippets over the course of several months. At first to a couple of dozen people, give or take. Then, to a few more.

I tried to find local avenues to share my story. But the doors there didn’t open like I had hoped. So I continued to write about my faith.

And I stopped worrying about it. I developed something akin to patience (at least in this area), and I just wrote what was on my heart, when my heart needed to share. There was a lot of peace in that as I began to trust God to use my words in whatever way he chose.

An Unexpected Roof

But then, I received an unexpected email. It was The Coming Home Network  gauging my interest in being a guest on the EWTN program The Journey Home. I sent back an email, and waited a couple of months. The CHN was publishing my written conversion story in their newsletter at the end of the year. That was cool in and of itself. It was a way for me to share my story with others who were following or had followed a similar road.

I felt so thankful for that. Those stories were huge for me on my own journey, and I hoped my path would be an encouragement to others as well.

But then I got another email. The Coming Home Network wanted to set up a date for me to fly out and film the show. We filmed in December and the episode aired December 18, 2017.

How This Happened

Let me be very clear. None of this is because of me.

It’s because I trusted God and didn’t push things when the timing wasn’t right. I wasn’t scrambling, I wasn’t stressed, I wasn’t pushing any doors open that weren’t meant for me.

It’s because God’s timing is better than my own. He had something in mind for my story, that I couldn’t have even imagined.

It’s because God knew it would be wise to let me settle into the faith a bit, as the distance and time helped give me perspective on all that happened, and to be better able to reflect. To see that I wasn’t actually ever alone. God was in it every step of the way, from my infancy and on into forever.

And so here I sit, in awe and in gratitude that He chose to use my story in any way at all.


Better This Way

And it was better this way.

I received the opportunity to tell my story to those to whom God desired for me to tell it, in His timing.

To a number of people I still can hardly wrap my head around.

Many people have reached out and responded in ways and in numbers I never thought I would hear.

It’s helped solidify a person’s decision to be confirmed this Easter.

It’s laid lingering questions to rest.

It’s encouraged lifelong Catholics who love learning more about their faith.

It’s brought hope to those who have family separated from the Church.

I take this as a lesson to be frustrated less and trust more (and faster) in the future. With, like, everything.

For me this was a lesson in patience, and in getting over myself as quickly as possible so God can do his thing. Even if The Journey Home had never happened, I know God would have used my story any way he saw fit, and that it would have been good. It would have been good if the only people to hear it were my kids, and it built up their faith as they grew. It would have been good if it encouraged one person in RCIA at some point in the future through the blog. It would have been good if the blog was just a gift from God to me, a way to thank Him for all He’s done.

With God, nothing is wasted.


Open Hands

This whole process has helped me continue onward with open hands. Open to however God wants to use me, in whatever way He sees fit. Maybe I’ll teach CCD next year. Maybe I’ll be a guest from time to time at our parish RCIA. Maybe I’ll get a few more emails from people who have a question about the faith. I will for certain continue to write.

And I’ll do it all in peace because I will continue to trust in God to lead the way. For His timing is perfect, and His blessings abound.


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On Taking Risks and Doing Scary Things

It’s been a bit quiet over here at This Catholic Family for the past week. And there’s good reason for it.

I’ve been working on something… a project on the side for some time now. And I recently reached a point where I was nearer the first finish line (more on that in a moment) than ever before.

Readers of this blog may have surmised that writing is something I enjoy. And it’s true. I love writing so much. It’s my favorite. Since Mary was born, I’ve been enjoying writing on this blog and contributing to other publications. Some of which you’ve seen, and others which are in the works. When I’m writing I feel like I am entirely myself. It’s always been that way. I still have stories and journals from my childhood. It’s part of who I was made to be.

And many moons ago, while I was a Creative Writing major at UW Milwaukee, I wrote a short story. It was an interesting short story, and it stuck with me over the following years. I dabbled with the idea of continuing the story onward, thinking there might be more to tell. I wrote snippets here and there, but it was all kind of random and non-cohesive.

Then I sat with about 25,000 words of a partial novel during the five years between when Felicity was a baby and Mary were born. I went back to work. Things were busy. But, this January, at the encouragement of my husband, I decided I was going to finish.

Fast forward to working on this blog, and also working on the novel in any moment I could spare. Evenings/weekend hours at Starbucks. Naptimes and quiet moments throughout the day. Literally anywhere and anytime I could.

It was terrifying. Still is. What if I put all that work in and the whole thing ends up being utter hogwash? What if I’m like the writer version of those people who audition for American Idol and think they are really good at singing but are actually tone deaf? It takes a lot more time to write a novel than it does to write a blog post, and you put so much of yourself into this massive work that the fear of it being awful is almost enough to make you stop.

But I just told that voice to quiet itself down as I sat in a chair or on a couch and wrote the next scene. Then the next one. And, before I knew it, I could see the finish line. I could count on one hand how many scenes I had left to write. So I hunkered down over the past couple weeks and got the first draft finished.

Yes, I have written a novel. It is a solid 99,000 words. Speculative Fiction. Elements of Magical Realism. Upmarket appeal.

The reason I said I’ve reached the first finish line is because I’m about to be knee deep in revisions. I think I have a pretty good idea of what needs tweaking, and will be spending the next three weeks or so gutting and cutting, and refining and shaping. Then, once I’ve done my absolute best, it’s off to a handful of Beta Readers, who I hope will give me additional feedback.

The next step is to start querying literary agents. Which is a whole ‘nother big situation that requires research and work.

So, while it feels like I’ve accomplished something kind of big, there is still a long way to go. But I love this story. I love the people I’ve had in my head for so long, and that what happens to them is finally out on paper. I’m going to give myself a solid year querying agents, and, if I need to at that point, will pursue self-publishing. Because I think this is a story that is worth being told.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog, or anything else I have written, stay tuned. I’ll still be writing actively on This Catholic Family, but will also be launching a professional website for writing-related things in the coming months.

I hope I continue to have the courage to do scary things in my life. And I hope you do too.


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Do Catholics Have A Different Bible?

I used to get quite squeamish when sitting in Mass with JP’s family, especially when one of the readings would come from one of the books in the Old Testament that wasn’t in the Protestant Bible. The Books of Wisdom, Sirach, and others were foreign to me.

I was uncomfortable because I was convinced those books did not belong in the Biblical Canon. But, looking back, it surprises me how I assumed the Protestant position on the Canon of the Old Testament, adamently protesting those seven books, but having absolutely no idea why I protested them. I didn’t even think it was something I needed to look into. The Catholics were clearly wrong.

Had someone asked me why I didn’t consider the seven books that make the difference between the Protestant and Catholic Bibles to belong in Scripture, I wouldn’t have been able to give a single reason. Other than to say I grew up with the Protestant Bible. I had simply no justification for my stance on the matter.


Well… all that started to change when JP and I began attending RCIA class at our local Parish.

Due to my vague understanding that the Catholic Bible was different, I brought it up during one of my first classes. If the Catholics had the wrong Bible, it would be an easy way for me to stay Protestant. And though I definitely wanted Truth, I didn’t particularly like the idea of how becoming Catholic could affect my relationships with the people at our Protestant Church. No one at the time even knew we were attending those classes. If I could quickly dismiss one of the main Catholic claims, I could go comfortably back to life as I knew it, and no one would know of my brief foray into Catholic territory.

However, this question was one of the earliest ones to be answered above and beyond to my satisfaction due to Church history and sound logic. And therefore it was one of my first major objections to the Catholic faith that turned out to be unfounded.

The Books In Question

The actual difference between the Catholic and Protestant Bible consists of seven books: Tobit, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Judith, Baruch, Sirach, and additions to Esther and Daniel.

And, in the end, it all ended up being pretty simple for me.

The Reformers decided to utilize the Hebrew version of the Old Testament when they determined Canon during the Reformation. And, simply put, the Hebrew Canon of the Old Testament, which excluded those seven books, was determined by the Jewish people approximately 100 years after Jesus walked the earth.

So the question really became… did Jewish people, over 100 years after Christ, have the Authority to correctly determine the Christian Canon? Did they have the Holy Spirit? 100 years after Christ, those who remained Jewish certainly didn’t even accept Jesus as the Messiah. So, on the issue of their authority to correctly decide Canon, I had to realize the answer was no. And if the answer is no, then the Protestant church, in utilizing that Canon, had to be the ones in error.

Jesus Used It

A better approach, I discovered, when thinking about what books belong in the Old Testament, was to figure out what Jesus used, as well as the Early Christian Church, and go from there.

It turns out, when Jesus quotes the Old Testament in Scripture, a vast majority of the time, he is quoting the Septuagint, or Greek translation. An example would be Mark 7:6-7. It also turns out that the Greek translation was very commonly used during the time of Jesus by the Jewish people.

And if Jesus is okay quoting the Septuagint, which contains those seven books… then why would I refuse to do the same?

The Early Church’s Old Testament overwhelmingly included those seven books right up until the time of the Reformation. So the idea of excluding those books in the Old Testament Canon is only as old as the Reformation itself. And if Wisdom, Maccabees, Sirach, and others don’t belong in the Bible, then Christians had it wrong for the first 3/4ths of Christianity’s existence as a religion on this earth. And that just doesn’t make sense.

Extra Books

Understanding the history of how the Canon was developed, along with the other historical evidence of what Old Testament Jesus used, as well as what the Early Church used, I found very quickly I could longer justify my previous conclusion.

It’s interesting now… before I would have described the Catholic Bible as having seven “extra” books. Now, I describe the Protestant Bible as missing Canonical texts. Understanding the solid foundation of the Catholic Canon of Scripture was one of the first of many puzzle pieces that fell into place on my journey to the Catholic Church.



Canon of the Holy Scriptures (super thorough)

Why Are Protestant and Catholic Bibles Different?

On Jesus Using the Septuagint

What Bible did Jesus Use?

Interested in More Catholic 101? Check out our Catholic 101 Page!


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Finding A New Mother In Mary

Before I was Catholic, I focused on Mary during the holiday season. I mostly thought about her, pregnant and heavy laden, making the long journey for the census just before her baby was to be born. Tired, searching for a place to rest. Giving birth in a dirty, humble place. Holding the infant Jesus in a night where shepherds and angels and the light of a star paid Him heed. I had the honor of being in late stage pregnancy twice during the Advent season. I was very comfortable thinking about Mary then.

But I didn’t think about her much otherwise. Thoughts about Mary were safe during Advent and Christmas. But, like the tree and decorations we put up in our home, my thoughts of Mary, too, were boxed up and put away at the end of the season, until the following year. Mary belonged in a nativity scene, not in my life.

A Growing Admiration

All of that necessarily changes when one is on a journey to the Catholic Church. Mary plays such a key role in our salvation story, and Catholics aren’t afraid to acknowledge it. I know, based on the Bible and the teaching of The Church, that Mary is in heaven, and prays for us. I also know that Jesus listens carefully to what his mother requests of Him. Her role as the New Eve, the Ark of the New Covenant, her Immaculate Conception, her lifelong obedience and holiness, also are things I worked through as I prepared for Confirmation.


It became easy to realize there was much more to Mary than what I had previously thought. It became easy to be thankful for how precious a role God gave Mary, from the moment of her own conception. It became easy to admire her.

But, as I am learning, admiring someone is not the same thing as being in a relationship.

Baby Steps

As a teen, spending time with my mother wasn’t as high on the priority list, though that has long since changed. But in some ways, I think I still relate to Mary in that way. I know she loves me and is there for me, but I don’t often make time with her a priority. Some of the Rosary’s I’ve prayed have ended up being the most powerfrul prayers of my life, prayers that were clearly answered, and graces that were abundantly given.

So why don’t I do it more?

Perhaps it’s some tendency leftover from my Protestant days. The Rosary isn’t often one of the first prayers I go to, and even though it doesn’t take incredibly long, I often struggle at the time commitment a Rosary takes. I have been praying Hail Mary’s more often in my day to day life, which I think is a good baby step. But it feels too tiny sometimes, when I know the beautiful graces given to me through Mary on the occassions I have spent time intentionally turning to her.

But I also know Mary has a lot to offer me if I would not only spend time talking to her, but also listening.

I have so many wonderful mother figures in my life. There’s my mom, who has been with me since the beginning. I also have a step-mom, and a mother-in-law, as well as many other women who have been influential in my life.

But as much as these women have allowed me to talk and share my heart with them, I find I often learn the most when I listen to the wisdom they have to give me. And Mary has so very, very much wisdom to offer. Through her example in Scripture, through her presence in the ways she has appeared to many throughout history, offering Truth and encouragement and building our faith as a Church. This weekend, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fatima, and that is just one of many examples of her intervention in our world. And I’m sure she would speak to my own heart, if I only would quiet myself and listen.

Many Mothers

I think a person has room for many mothers. Women who love, guide, and shape us. Who intercede for us. Who listen to us. Who offer us comfort. And I firmly believe Mary should be at the top of the list of Mothers in our lives.

On this Mother’s Day, it is my prayer that as I celebrate the earthly mothers in my life, I would also move closer to embracing my heavenly Mother, Mary. That I would allow her guidance and wisdom more and more into my own daily existence. That I would not take the blessing of having a heavenly Mother for granted. And that I would look to emulate her, and ask for her intercession to become even a small portion of the woman and mother she was to Jesus and is to The Church. For God’s grace to emulate her in holiness. And to know she is there for me, loving me, and waiting for me to spend some time.


We Want to Know: What is your relationship with Mary like? How do you relate to her as a Mother?

P.S. If you found this post interesting, and would like to read more on This Catholic Family… hit up that follow button on the top left of our page, or follow us on Facebook. We’d love to have you back again!


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Some thoughts on suffering

Death and taxes. Two things that are famously known for their certitude. But, I suggest that death (and some might argue taxes) is merely a form of something else- much more frequent and just as certain. And that something else is Suffering.

That’s why I fully reject the idea that Christianity is some sort of free pass to comfort or prosperity. All the evidence is clear. This life is not a cruise. There is no “smooth sailing” to our final destination, in the sense that we can get there by avoiding pain. God isn’t some magician whose purpose is to send checks in the mail and provide big ole’ houses for those who just name it and claim it with enough faith. We aren’t owed material wealth. And I might argue, that comfort might not be super good for us.

Jesus promised us an abundant life. But the world is feeding us lies about what abundance means. Abundance doesn’t mean yachts and sprawling mansions and millions of dollars in the bank. In fact, people who put the value of their identities in material abundance are, even, according to Jesus, the most poor. The most lacking. We need to define abundance by God’s standard, not HGTV’s, or Elle Magazine’s, or billboards along the highway.

Facts of Life:

At some point, everyone we know will die. Either before or after we do.

At some point, our lives will be touched in some way by chronic illness or cancer, whether ourselves or through someone we know and love.

At some point, unexpected things will happen that cause stress.

At some point, we will need to make difficult decisions, that don’t have a black and white answer.

At some point. At some point. Something will happen that causes us to suffer.

Help Number One: He Knows

Out of all the world religions that take themselves seriously, an interesting fact is that the Christian God is the only God who has actually personally known suffering.

Many people have unease or misconceptions about why Catholics have Jesus on the crucifix, when many Protestant churches have the empty cross. It’s not that we don’t believe in, or celebrate the resurrection. If you think that, check out an Easter Vigil Mass sometime. That thing is sweet. It encompasses the movement from death to life, in everything from the use of lighting, to the scripture readings, to the tone of the music. Catholics most certainly believe in the Resurrection.

Part of the reason Jesus is on the cross on the crucifix, is because it is a reminder to us of how our Savior intimately knows and understand suffering, and that becomes an immense comfort to us, as we face the different struggles of our own lives. This idea is called to mind in the Jeremy Camp song, “He Knows.”

The crucifix isn’t about keeping Jesus on the cross. It’s about identifying our suffering with His own, and receiving the comfort that comes from that. And whether or not you use that tool in your own faith walk, all Christians can take comfort in the fact that our God knows immense suffering.

Help Number 2: Suffering Isn’t the Worst Thing

I think humanity, in general, seeks to reduce our discomfort. When my daughter fills her diaper, she cries to let us know its time for a change. When my older children get an “owie,” the first thing they do is run to me for a kiss to “make it better.” From the earliest age, we seek to eliminate discomfort… we seek to eliminate our own suffering.

But, interestingly, the Christian faith teaches us that, in fact, our own personal suffering is not the worst thing! I recently read an article about people of faith who put a radical trust in God. It told the story of a pastor tortured for his faith in China, and after he was tortured, he was put into a very small box, just a few feet tall and wide and deep. Instead of praying for his own freedom, he prayed for a Bible. He didn’t pray for his own physical suffering to end- he prayed for a Bible (and received one, by the way!). Because he knew the ultimate truth. That suffering, even to the point of death, isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person. Sin is worse. Not being able to share the love of God with others, is worse. Not knowing God, is worse. The priority is not on relieving suffering, the priority is on holiness. And if being in that box meant that this pastor was able to share God’s love with his captors, then he was more content to be there than he was desirous of freedom.


Help Number 3: The Fruit of Suffering

This one, also probably doesn’t always feel that great, at least at the outset. Catholics use the term “Redemptive Suffering” to describe how the fruit of suffering can actually be a good thing, if we allow God to work through our pain. It allows for the very real possibility that through suffering, can come immense beauty. We see this most easily in Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. The death Jesus experienced was cruel, and painful, and one of the worst ways probably possible to die. But, had He not gone through that pain, we would have no Easter morning. We would have no celebration of all that He conquered precisely because he did suffer. We would have no salvation.

We have another saying that goes “offer it up.” We can allow our suffering to become redemptive, useful, and helpful to ourselves and others if we refuse to wallow in the pain itself, but instead seek out the purpose in why we are being allowed to suffer, and to offer our own suffering back up to God for the good of others. In my own life, having experienced Posptartum Depression/Anxiety after the birth of our son has allowed me to support several other moms in my life who are going through it. Going through PPD was, in my experience, a bit like hell on earth, but God has allowed me to go through that, in order that some others will not feel quite so alone. And that has helped to redeem my own experience, and give purpose to the pain that I went through during that season of life. Redemptive Suffering on a small scale, in my own life.

We can waste our suffering, or we can use it. It’s a choice each one of us has each time we face any of our own pain. And we have the best example in our Savior, who used His suffering for the ultimate redemptive purpose.

Concluding Thoughts

I think it’s important that we as Christians work to grow in our ability to see suffering as an essential and sometimes necessary component to our lives. Christianity by no means promises comfort in the sense of ease. If you were able to ask any of the original apostles if their decision to live life following Jesus meant ease and prosperity for them, or comfort by a worldly standard, I’m fairly certain the answer you would get is ‘no.” Especially since nearly all of them were martyred for their faith. However, walking through this life with Jesus promises comfort and prosperity that isn’t tied to the standards of the world. And sometimes, some of our riches are necessarily born through pain. Riches like compassion for others, understanding of someone else’s experience, humility, sobriety, empathy, and mercy. Sometimes suffering teaches us lessons we wouldn’t otherwise have learned.

If only we let it, suffering can be redemptive.


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Oh Child, I Have So Much Good in Mind for You – If You Would Just Obey


In reading the Gospels lately, there is a common theme in Jesus’ teaching that jumps off the page at me (JP). That theme: if you believe I am Lord, then do what I say. I really am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and I’ve come so that you can have life to the fullest. But, having that life requires obeying me!

Being a parent has granted me the gift of understanding our relationship to our heavenly Father in better ways than ever before. Look at a scenario many parents are familiar with: parent wants what is good for the child, child doesn’t trust parent… But why?

Because sometimes what’s good for the child requires some element of suffering for the child.

The child can’t see past the short term suffering – giving up the toy to the younger brother, turning off the T.V. when mom asks, coming inside when told, …. etc. Since the child only sees the short term suffering, he/she has a hard, if not impossible time, believing that the parent has the child’s best interest in mind. But, the parent pleads with the child – if not explicitly, at least implicitly, subconsciously – to trust, just trust. “Child, if you’d just trust that I have your best interest in mind and obey what I tell you to do, life would go so well for you. I love you unconditionally, I take care of you, I want nothing less than for you to become the best version of yourself!”

But the child needs to do more than simply give mental assent to this claim from the parent – the claim that the parent has the child’s best interest in mind. The child actually needs to obey the parent! Without obedience, there is no growth. In obeying the parent, the child is participating in allowing the parent to shape him/her into the person the parents want them to be. And they want them to be a certain way only because the love them so very much! They want the child to be happy and they know what brings happiness and what doesn’t.

How similar have I been in my relationship with God to how my kids interact with me. Yah, yah, yah, God, you came and died for my sins, I get it. Jesus is God, I get it. …. 30min later when stuff is getting hard in the house, kids are screaming, dishwasher is broken, rain water is coming in the window, … whatever, I choose to sin, I choose not to obey Jesus’ commands in those moments. But if I really believe he is who he says he is, then the answer to all life’s greatest challenges is to do what he says! And what does he say to do?


That lead to the next logical question: what is love? How do I love as Jesus commands? Love is to will the good of the other. Love, which is what God is, is self-giving, indifferent self-giving. Love is giving of self regardless of the circumstances, regardless of what you will get in return. This is what Jesus came to show. He showed us what that looks like. And then he gave us the answers to all of life’s greatest troubles: do what I tell you – love others as I love you – and you will have life to the fullest. You will be free to freely give! Not to even begin to mention the endless grace he pours out on us when we make room in our hearts for him. If we just trust our Father in heaven has our best interest in mind and do what he says, we will have life to the fullest.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” -John 10:1

– John Paul

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