Denial = Gain

 

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SWEET SURRENDER

There’s a time and a season for the feast and a time and a season for the fast. Lent is that season in the Liturgical calendar set aside to retreat and turn back to a deepening of our relationship with Jesus. The 40 days leading to Holy Week and Easter, the holiest season in the Christian calendar, is an opportunity to enter into the wilderness with Jesus.  This can seem burdensome, too hard or isolating but it’s where the grace flows and deliverance happens.

People give up social media, steaks, M&M’s and coffee in a competitive one up-ness on who has made the greatest Lenten sacrifice only to boast it on Facebook and document when they fall. #fail

But do we really understand why we are giving things up and removing our creature comforts and daily addictions for a few weeks?

The Bible tells us that the Spirit led Jesus into the desert where he was tempted by Satan. Jesus fasted and was away from people, civilization for this period of time before He entered into that Salvific moment on the Cross. And yeah, Jesus was not hashtagging that. It was a real-life standoff with the Hell that was coming against the Son of God and the Divine Will plan to set all humanity free.

We are about to the half way mark on the way to Easter and so this is just a little check in to encourage you on the way. Maybe you blew Lent or have not made a resolve to go anywhere with Christ, let alone deeper. Maybe you ditched church and God things a long time ago because of some sin or hang up against your notion of what church is or isn’t. You see Lent and these 40 days are an opportunity for us to get back in relationship with Jesus. To unite our fallen nature with His higher nature. To be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:48

“Then Jesus was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”  Matthew 4:1

The number 40 is seen a number of times in the Bible as a period of trial and testing to be cleansed and perfected. In Noah’s day it rained 40 days and 40 nights. Moses fled and lived in Midean for 40 years returning to Israel at the appointed time for God’s plan of deliverance. Israel also wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, until after those who did not believe died and Israel entered into the Promised Land. And of course, after Jesus was raised from the dead, he remained on the earth for 40 days until the Ascension.

40 is a big number.  And it involves a prayer fight, period of preparation for greatness and knowing your enemy. Jesus could not conquer sin and death unless he battled the devil face to face with full knowledge of the adversary. At the same time, Jesus was not left to battle alone, he had the full love of the Father and angelic reinforcement in this test. He took this on for us.

You might be battling heavy burdens so entering into this “wilderness” time with Jesus might just feel too much.

But it’s fitting that we are permitted to enter into our own forty days with Jesus to confront the demons that assail us – the sins, imperfections, weaknesses, bad habits, generational sins – and deal with them dead on with the grace of the Sacraments to confound them. The Church invites us into the Sacramental life of the Church (frequent reception of Holy Communion, Confession) and to “fast” moderately as a form of mortification that brings clarity of spiritual vision (to see ourselves as we really are and the adversary). Fasting also brings power to our spiritual fight. Jesus emptied himself of all food and physical nourishment which in turn strengthened him in the battle he was waging on our behalf. We too become trained in self-denial for a greater good – for freedom and His will.

In the same way Jesus was to take the strong man down with prayer and mortification, He shows us how to follow Him to defeat the enemy in our lives. I encourage you to get into a radical prayer cave and lose the excess of frivolous gatherings, nights out and noise in exchange to mystically position yourself with Christ in the Lenten desert. If you have extra time, exchange a night out with friends for a Holy Hour at home or at Church. Ditch the favorite hours of television and have a quiet night.

There can be a lot of things coming at you – emails, Facebook messages, demands on your time from people who are not on the same page. Make an exchange of your desires and these distractions for something of Heaven. It’s in the silence and the wilderness where the clarity of His voice can be heard, His will for your life be made known and your deliverance from things unholy are won.

Pope Benedict XVI said, “The ultimate goal of fasting is to help each one of us to make a complete gift of self to God.”

There’s still time. You can begin again and surrender your own will and self interests for His interests and plans for your life and have the best Easter you have ever known.

Praying for you+

Lexi

Deepest Longing

 

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WHOLE HEARTED VA-LENT-INE

Hey Valentines, let me know if you agree…

I think it’s Heaven’s sense of humor that Valentine’s Day and the beginning of Lent are co-mingled and marked with the sign of an ashy Cross on February 14th, the universal day reserved for love and lovers. I heart this development. There are memes being created that slickly reveal that the “heart” of  Saint Valentine boasts “LENT” after all. {VA-LENT-INE}. Couples and singles bemoan the juxtaposition of the two “feasts.” Some are ah-ha-ing that love is truly a Cross. Some will have no clue at all. What Ashes?

God’s funny. But really, what have we made of love? It seems Heaven’s conspired to point us back to the origin of what Love really is – to consider that the Love of all Loves  condescended to earth and confined Himself in a human womb as a baby, a boy and son of a carpenter, and a man who conformed Himself in radical obedience all the way to Calvary, to be crucified as the ultimate Sacrifice of Love.

There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with celebrating love. It’s good and holy. (bring it on). God himself is the greatest romantic, wooing humanity with a Passion of ultimate proof of Love found in the Cross. Love is a decision, not a feeling. And it’s important to know that Love has a Name: Jesus.

We are about to embark on the holiest season of the Christian year journeying through the 40 days of Lent to Easter. Ash Wednesday is always the kick off so to speak. The beginning of the plunge into the wilderness and a time for metanoia, a turning back from the places we have been scattered, lost and rebellious. The places where we have abandoned His Will for our own. The places in time when we ignored His call. The places of sin and weakness. The vacant places of discouragement, loneliness, delay, loss, lack, abandonment, sickness, pain. It’s a time to enter into Love itself. The Love that wounds itself to reveal the depth of the Lovers love. To know that we have a Savior above all that knows our human hearts, that He has written our Names on His heart. That He let his heart be pierced with a lance to gush blood and water for our sins, a price for our human hearts and our salvation to be one with Him forever. Love with nothing in return.

The longing and ache of the human heart without remembrance to keep God at the center is left only to be frustrated. My contemporary hero, Ven. Fulton J. Sheen is profound on matters of the heart:

But I think the real meaning is that when God made your human heart, He found it so good and so lovable that He kept a small sample of it in heaven. He sent the rest of it into this world to enjoy His gifts, and to use them as stepping stones back to Him, but to be ever mindful that you can never love anything in this world with your whole heart because you have not a whole heart with which to love.

“Look at your heart! It tells the story of why you were made. It is not perfect in shape and contour, like a Valentine Heart. There seems to be a small piece missing out of the side of every human heart. That may be to symbolize a piece that was torn out of the Heart of Christ which embraced all humanity on the Cross. But I think the real meaning is that when God made your human heart, He found it so good and so lovable that He kept a small sample of it in heaven. He sent the rest of it into this world to enjoy His gifts, and to use them as stepping stones back to Him, but to be ever mindful that you can never love anything in this world with your whole heart because you have not a whole heart with which to love. In order to love anyone with your whole heart, in order to be really peaceful, in order to be really wholehearted, you must go back again to God to recover the piece He has been keeping for you from all eternity.”

I love the idea of Lent and St. Valentine’s Day being intertwined. In our culture that has so much longing, oftentimes longing that isn’t rooted in Christ, may everyone discover that this longing is not in vain. It’s a heart cry toward the Creator which necessitates Communion and challenges us to embrace vocations in imitation of this great love. I think that all lovers and prospective lovers have the greatest blessing of 2018 to have their deepest longing be united in imitation with the Divine Lover and a reminder to know that “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

May we be courageous enough to imitate this great Romance.

Praying for you, sweet VA-LENT-INES+ (and if you see my parents around Boston on 2-14, please wish them a happy Valentine Anniversary)  xoxoxo

Lexi

JMJ+

 

{Extra credit: 12 promises of the Sacred Heart}

See, I am doing a new thing!

 

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RADICAL IMPRINT OF LOVE: TEARING AND BINDING

2017 was watershed in many ways and foundational to all the “new” that is being built in my life. A lot of passing of the “old” to make way for His breakthrough and destiny to be fully realized in my life. There was labor, loss, travel, triumph, surprise and speed in only the way the Holy Spirit creates, breaks, burns and liberates, binds and changes things up…and that’s not just me going from platinum to a rootier edgier blonde, haha! In all seriousness, I have a tremendous joy welling up inside me as this year comes to a dramatic finish with the new, I would say, already birthing and breaking forth like the dawn. I have glimmers of where I am going and who I am traveling with…

The old is passing.

The greatest sorrow of my year, the most dramatic for my family, was the passing of my grandmother, my mom’s mom, to Eternity. We have been preparing for this spiritually and emotionally for some time now. No matter how ready you think you are, nothing can prepare a human heart for this type of loss.

This past year was really her final preparation as we watched my gram die to this life and move fully into the Arms of Love. When I traveled home to Boston for Thanksgiving break, God showed me I was going home for her passing. I’m so grateful she waited for me and that we were permitted to be by her side in vigil for three days and nights in her final battle on earth, her final offering of suffering this side of Eternity. It was so like our Lord’s Passion and we were able to tell her how much we loved her, to pray her to her heavenly home with the Rosary, to plead Mercy and sing praise around her bed for the gift of her life. She was the matriarch of our family in truest fashion and held us all together. Life without her will never be the same and my little heart feels shattered sometimes as the sorrow comes unexpected and like a river. But the true reality of our faith tells us without a doubt that Heaven is our home and that we are united in the Body of Christ especially at every Mass. I know this loss is also the greatest gift as she is one of my (our) most fierce intercessors.

She was mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, sister, and cousin. She was ushered home on the obscure, yet powerful feast of the Presentation of Mary. Important to us because of Anne’s role in our family (many of us are named Anne in some format) and that of Our Lady. This was a great sign and consolation that Our Lady with St. Anne presented my grandmother to the Lord. Plus, let’s face it – my grandmother wanted to be presented! (Drama!) Significant that I was recently at the Shrine of St. Anne in Quebec over the summer, a powerful place of grace where all my intentions were laid down including that of a peaceful holy death for my gram. Such an answer. Heaven’s response. A true blessing of this year in review.

The new is coming.

Prior to traveling home for this profound life event, the Lord placed in my heart that at Christmas I was to travel on a spiritual pilgrimage to prepare the way for what’s coming next in my life. (Is 43:19). The Lord brought me to Los Angeles in the fall of 2015, in what was the complete and total surprise gift of my life that expanded and opened up new territory, spiritual family and roots in a place that God has prepared for me from the beginning of time. There are no flukes in the Kingdom of God. What He wills, He does if we avail ourselves to His design, even if others get in the way or we get in God’s way. I thank God that I didn’t resist His plan despite the thorns, unknown and occasional loneliness. (Psalm 147)

At Christmas, God was saying MEXICO! (I was saying Rome!) But the Lord, pounded on my heart and this celestial invitation from Our Lady become a reality and was confirmed in the most profound way under direction from one of my spiritual mamas in Florida and a holy priest who confirmed this trip basically mapping it out. Next to my whirlwind move to LA, no trip or circumstance has happened as fast as this Mexican trip. Closing down 2017 and offering Christmas in a radical way to Our Lady of Guadalupe was a crowning moment and a signal grace of what God is building in my life. I’m so grateful that Heaven’s call and God’s Divine Will overpower my own will, because the mini pilgrimage of blind faith was flooded with surprise graces and special divine encounters. God wouldn’t let me miss.

Normal family life would dictate that I be with those in grief or go back to that place of loss, but the Lord was calling me forward and preparing me for what He’s about to add into my life. God is the best mathematician and he always multiplies. I wasn’t sure what Mexico would be like, or what it would be like to be on my own at Christmas but it was truly the most joyful, blessed and fortifying trip. Mexico City was full of love and affection, romance and glamour (hello!) and an abundance of faith. A complete sensory experience, I was overcome at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe which I visited twice. The people movers that position you underneath the miraculous tilma seemed so completely odd, and because I could not get enough, I kept going around and around like luggage on a conveyer belt for each and every heartfelt prayer request. Aint no pilgrim like this aggressive American pilgrim going in for the overflow! There is really only one big intention that I traveled for and God already shows me the dam is about to burst. Sometimes we have to move our feet and then God makes his move. Hola!

Mount Tepeyac was more powerful than I anticipated. We climbed atop the hill and prayed in the place where Saint Juan Diego received the miraculous roses that Our Lady instructed he was to take to the Bishop as a sign. Read more about this approved Marian apparition here. Our Lady’s love for the laity, love for her sons – the Bishops, and her ability to bring about the miraculous as she stands in intercession to change history completely overwhelmed me. I love that Heaven is creative, romantic, and surprising!

We also visited the church of the Holy Family where the body of Blessed Miguel Pro is housed, an important experience because of my work on the movie For Greater Glory back in 2012. Pro is not mentioned in the film, but he was a central figure in the Cristiada as a martyr and one who was “undercover for Jesus” (my kind of guy!) fearless for the name of Jesus Christ. I felt this pull to pray near him and call down his intercession. Those early movie days were central to all that is unfolding in my life now and there was a massive grace in this particular Church on Christmas Eve in beautiful Mexico City. Padre Pro said, “prepare your intention for Heaven, because I will be your greatest attorney.”  BOOM!

This year, I started by own business called AWE!, took the helm as host of Mary’s Touch radio show and completed my first published work Ex Libris: Fulton J. Sheen set to be released next April 2018 by Pauline Publishing. This past year was a year of transition and very foundational as ministry grows and expands for His glory. This is just the beginning. I consecrated each of these endeavors to Our Lady.

God is surprising me again with the gift of a trip to Florida for New Year’s and my birthday, a grace to spend the first few weeks in Palm Beach where God has blessed me abundantly, the place of my most profound spiritual growth and transformation, a place of leaping forward in the Holy Spirit and where God worked so many miracles for me. I believe there is such a thing as the grace of a place and with that in mind, I’m traveling with blind faith to spend some time praying in 2018 and all the victory and miraculous breakthroughs that HE has for this season of my life. Cheers to new beginnings and fulfillment. Grateful for this past year, blessing those who have traveled with me and those HE is placing on my path for what’s manifesting now. There are no coincidences with God. Bring it on!

What is He doing anew in your life? How will you respond to this grace?

Praying for you+

Lexi

JMJ+

“I’ll Promote You”

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AND SHEEN TOOK MY WORD FOR IT

That was the last thing I uttered when I was inside the crypt at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City at Christmastime 2008. I was praying to then Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen asking him for intercession with a litany of impossible prayer requests, three for others, and two for me. I closed my prayer with, “If you help me with these intentions, I will promote you.” 

Who does that?

WIN. Sheen’s already famous! That profound moment inside the crypt was a beginning of so many things in my life through the intercession of America’s Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. So it’s no coincidence with God that a whole ten years later, this desire to make this holy bishop in heaven known to a new generation has resulted in a published work: EX LIBRIS: FULTON J. SHEEN which is set for release by Pauline Media on April 1, 2018. Today, on the memorial of Sheen’s death, I’m so happy to share the book cover with you! ^^^

Here are 13 quick takes on this project: 

  1. I took a small piece of work helping out an actor in Hollywood. At that time, God spoke into my heart and instructed me, “don’t take any money… help this man and watch what I do for you.” At the conclusion of that tiny PR blitz, I was invited to take on this publishing project.
  2. Ex Libris: Fulton J. Sheen is the first in a new series by Pauline Media and Ex Libris is Latin for “from the library of.” Pauline Media will use this series to feature the saints and spiritual masters.
  3. Who wouldn’t want their work published by the Media Nuns? They are committed like Sheen was in his time to evangelize through the media in all available formats and everything is wrapped in prayer. SCORE.
  4. When you chew on this book and Sheen’s words, you feel the Gospel come to life in a new and profound way.
  5. The Holy Spirit was so present as I selected the content – I look at the mystery of God (God is Fire), Human Freedom, Divine Love, Sin and Knowing Jesus.
  6. During this process, I wept a lot. The power of God was so in this that reading Sheen’s words over and over again on these topics moved me so deeply and took me into the mystery of God and His great inescapable love for us.
  7. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, Bishop Gerald Barbarito, and Bishop Robert Reed at CatholicTV have all endorsed this work and I’m so very grateful for their constant support.
  8. The introduction is my personal story how in a “New York Minute” this Emmy Award winning bishop broke into my world.
  9. At the end of the book there is a mini-study guide so you can use this in a book club or at home.
  10. Three to Get Married was the first book that I ever read by Sheen.
  11. Sheen is still operative as a massive intercessor… today on Dec. 9th, the memorial of his death, cry out to God and ask for your intentions through Sheen’s powerful intercession – he will help with EVERY area of your life. Prepare yourself because he shows up!
  12. Three out of my five intentions have been answered and there are 2 biggies to go.
  13. The book is dedicated to my future husband, for without my desire for the vocation of marriage and the man I have been praying for forever, this ten-year journey with Sheen would not have happened. (You’ve already given me the best, even as I wait for you).

Thanks for your friendship and love on this incredibly wonderful project. Please share this news and sign up here to receive updates. Spring is around the corner! Christmas first+

God love you, God bless you!

Praying for you+

Lexi

JMJ+

Thanksgiving in Delays and Detours

 

REJOICE

SEEING GOD’S HAND IN EVERY MOVEMENT OF YOUR LIFE

 

I jumped in the last blue taxi at the Austin airport on the way to Susana’s house. I was excited to get to her because it had been a while and even though it was well past midnight I knew we’d be up late – catching up, talking, and not wanting to go to sleep. This is the spiritual sisterhood that God’s forged, one that’s hard to explain, it just is and seems like it existed since forever.

I’ve been traveling to Austin every so often this year with the addition of Mary’s Touch. God’s expanse of blessing has produced ministry and people. It’s not lost on me. My heart is over full at how it seems to be a massive season of blessing of the authentic – and restoration of things lost or delayed.

After ten minutes in the cab my phone totally died and though a pretty fearless Boston gal most of the time, I was not thrilled about it being the middle of the night with now no working phone and a taxi driver who just announced he was running out of gas. At this point I was getting aggressively “east coast” with a litany of directions to the cabbie as it seemed he was driving me into an abandoned truck stop. I silently prayed and told him to turn the cab around and find a lit gas station. “Just keep going.” There was nothing in sight and I will admit I was fighting the panic that was overtaking me. I am calm in big cities, but open spaces and darkness have potential for panic attack.  After a good 12 minutes, of complete darkness and no lights, finally a gas station and I was plotting my exit.

There was a convenience store that was open and got out and had him pop the trunk, grabbed my luggage and burst into the store asking the woman manning the joint to charge my phone for me behind the counter and could she help me talk Susana to me with directions to come get me. “Don’t worry honey you are good now. You are fine. We’ll send him on his way. I’m Nikki.”

She was safe. She was rattling off names of streets Texas style as I stood there perplexed. She couldn’t figure out why I didn’t know these parts of Austin until I enlightened her that I wasn’t really from around here but was just in town for the weekend. “For what?” I proceeded to tell her I was there for a retreat on the Blessed Mother. “You know the Mother of God.”

Silence.

I got a drink and the trashiest snack food possible to crunch my anxiety away while I waited impatiently for my phone to charge until I could call Susana. I felt dead and relieved all at once and couldn’t stop thinking about how little sleep we would get before our board meetings and the radio shows the next day. It was going to be an all-nighter at this point and I was suddenly scanning the aisles for Visene. It was a total inconvenience for Susana. Did I over react? Why didn’t we book an earlier flight? Why isn’t there Uber in this city? What taxi driver has an empty tank? Was that a total scam? What am I doing in this place?

I suddenly thought about this woman and how she’s alone in this place all night with every manner of everyone coming and going. I said, “Hey Nikki, how do you manage here overnight like this – are you safe?” She told me she’s fine and that her police friends come in and out through the night. She has her buddies that look out for her. She said “I have to work here and I also work at a hotel in a very bad area too. I was born in a cycle of poverty and had a baby as a teenager. I need to work.”

My heart sank as I considered her situation. I told her I thought it was awesome that she kept her baby and that she has this strong work ethic. That she was a leader. That she would go far. I was suddenly giving this massive convenience store pep talk. I was too tired for words, but I was suddenly standing up and was turning Texas cheerleader for Nikki. She helped me. And that she was so encouraging. I thanked her for being here for me.

I told her that I was going to give the retreat this weekend on generational sins and habits and that maybe my cab was breaking down to just tell her that she WILL break the chains of poverty in her family and that God wants to use her to do that. That there was no coincidence with God that my little blue cab couldn’t make it any further and ended up here, right now in this place. She began to weep. I told her she was strong. And that she could stand in the gap and be the woman that no woman ever was in her family – that as her children watched her work ethic and integrity, they would learn from her and model her, not the sins of the past. She cried more and we embraced.

I was so in my own drama about the maze of the broken down blue cab to not see right away that even in the inconvenient moments, we need to praise Him. Praise Him because He sees where we are going and why, even if it’s for five minutes or five months. He is the Divine Transporter in the disguise of broken instruments who seem like a mess, the wrong fit or a mistake. He is the mover, the Divine Shifter to move our feet to be His for another. Thanks-giving. Thank Him when it seems to be going wrong, or you feel detoured, delayed or duped. It is precisely in those moments when God is operative.

Nikki was proof to me that I need to be grateful and expectant. That God is not a man that He would lie and change His mind about my life and the direction it’s going. If there are delays or detours or unexpected stops on the way it’s because there is an assignment, a blessing, and that I am to be a blessing. I was stuck overnight for a few hours that stretched a late night into a super late night, but it was worth it. God loved Nikki that much to inconvenience me to send a message of love and encouragement. God showed me as he burdened me that He bore the greatest burden of the Cross as the greatest message of love the world could ever know. Even if it seemed in vain, a waste, or not even like a kingly thing to do, He did it anyway.

I’m so grateful that I ended up with Nikki that night. She encouraged me and I encouraged her. She has something I needed, safety. And I had something she needed, assurance.

Let’s be grateful for even the things that seem broken. God can bring forth His greatest glory from these places.

I’m still thinking about Nikki. I pray for her every day.

Like Nikki, we can stand in the gap and do things differently so that we break old cycles and old patterns. We can be heroes in our own spaces that we occupy. I look up to her for her willingness to work hard, to not be bitter, to be a loving source of encouragement, to have chosen life at a great cost to herself. I pray she rises higher and higher and God lifts her to the next level. I know He will.

Thanksgiving for His timing and His mercy even in the detours.

Praying for you+

Lexi

 

JMJ+

 

 

 

Heaven’s Call

 

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DECREASE THAT HE MAY INCREASE

I’m not home that much anymore. And each time I get back to visit I see a very noticeable deterioration in my grandmother. She’s my last grandparent. My mom’s mom and this past March she turned 95-years-old. She was determined to make it.. part of our competitive family nature. A holy priest in our lives told my gram that she would live a very long life and this she certainly has.

It seems like yesterday when on one particular St. Patrick’s Day I called her up and asked her to make her corned beef and cabbage for my dad and me because my mom was out of town and we “needed it.” We had a plan B because I didn’t expect her to comply. She was thrilled to do it for us and it gave us a special time with her. She wouldn’t let us lift the pans and she struggled as she hobbled to the table carrying big pots of potatoes, carrots and corned beef. It was her offering of love even if we sort of forced her into it. That’s what grandmothers are for. That was ten years ago and it was the last real time I can remember her doing anything significant in the kitchen at all.

She’s been bed ridden since last Christmas and I can’t remember when, but at a certain point in these past few months, she can’t really speak on the phone anymore. The last time I talked to her my family put me on speaker as I tried to rattle off the coolest little things ever to give her a little Hollywood sparkle. I told her that I “handled” Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson at a big LA event and that lit her up like a Christmas tree.

My parents moved their beach life back to our hometown area west of Boston several years ago when my grandmother was becoming more vulnerable and my mom was commuting several days a week to be present to her. My aunt moved in with my grandmother from her house down the road. It’s been a supreme sacrifice of caretaking for everyone involved, especially my aunt who tends to my grandmother around the clock with an intricate prescription routine, meals and every possible corporal need each and every day.

When we visit, we visit in her small bedroom. We have birthdays in there, endless cups of tea – mostly the ladies in the family set up their own perch, but often the men barrel down the hall and take up their own residence as well. The great grandchildren zoom by and peer in to see if she’s alive and flash their wave of salute and the crawling babies get to be on the bed with her. She knows them all by name and personality and for someone who didn’t admit us into her “club” until the teen years, she’s converted to a baby lover at this stage in her life. There are now new faces – home health aids and hospice nurses, some good, some overbearing and needing more emotional attention than my grandmother. The priest comes to anoint her and hear confession. She loves the pastor who she says is “just like a friend.” She asked him when she could get out of here and he told her it was really up to her. Everyone got it.

The last time I was home, I was straddled between visiting my dad in rehab and my grandmother in her little blue and white wallpapered New England bedroom with CatholicTV blaring and her secret chocolate stash and the remote control nearby. I could be there less because of my dad and I felt this pulling away spiritually, as if God was saying, “Decrease. I am increasing.”

The visits in her bedroom are less dynamic. Coming down the long hallway to find her asleep only to perk up when she senses an arrival. She talks for a few, inspects my outfit to see what I have on and bobs her head back to sleep and rouses with “is that necklace new?” or “when do you have to leave?” and always, “any good men?”

This past year has probably been the most challenging for my family and for my grandmother. Her inability to move and the finiteness of knowing that it doesn’t improve from here have impressed upon my grandmother and all of us that heaven is calling. Sometimes we think she has no clue that this life will eventually end but I know she knows.

There are days when the isolation and duty can become unbearable for the family caretakers who elected to do this so she would not be a number in a nursing home and to provide her human dignity that would be met with love, care and compassion. There are days when the extended relatives want their moms and grandmothers back in a normal routine or to have the freedom to come and go on a whim. My mom and my aunt take turns in family celebrations and milestones so that one of them is always with her. There are onlookers who don’t understand why you would possibly give up your entire life for one when she could just go into a nursing home. We live in a throw away culture with people who are too busy with their own lives and so to many this is lunacy, but to God this is primary.

One night while praying with my mother on the phone God permitted me to see an image of Saint John Paul II in my grandmother’s bedroom with my aunt and grandmother. He was dressed in his Papal white and had his arms sturdily around my aunt’s waste and was genuflecting, one knee up and one down, with his pressed head tucked into my aunt’s womb. We were praying for my aunt to have supernatural strength for as long as this time period lasted. Initially, I didn’t understand exactly what this vision meant but as we continued to pray, I understood that what the Holy Spirit was trying to show me was that all of heaven bows down amid this radical reverence for life – from the womb (head in the womb) to the tomb, my grandmother at the end of her life. That this countercultural expression of love and sacrifice to reverence the dignity of life is the most important of works of any work we can do this side of heaven. Saint John Paul II was so mystically present as we prayed and fittingly so because he helped the world understand the value of life in the unborn and every stage – and even when his own was failing, he showed us how to die. This vision gave me great comfort and continues to bring me deep consolation. I pray it continues to console my family as they pour out their acts of love like a libation to know that heaven truly bows down when His creation honors creation.

Saint John Paul II was also the greatest promoter of the Divine Mercy for the sick and the dying.

We’ve been inspired to have an image of the Divine Mercy placed at the doorway of her home. My aunt positioned the image on the floor at the entrance. There is so much foot traffic now, that we believe that God wants this house to be a house of Mercy for all who enter it.  We cling to the promises of the Divine Mercy for my grandmother during these days and we invite heaven to continue to beckon for her. We pray that as heaven breaks in, her heart will lift from any sorrow of what she leaves behind and long for the promise of Eternity with no more sorrow, no more pain. We also pray for those coming to see my grandmother in these final days, no matter where they are in their walk in this life, they will recognize Christ in my grandmother and experience His mercy for them.

All of life is borne with sacrifice. A mother sacrifices her very own body that becomes stretched and wounded to give birth to a child. That child requires nourishment, care-taking, instruction from both parents and is served by the love and sacrifice of those parents who put away their selfish interests as two now for the third. A new child comes, and rinse and repeat. The older child now sacrifices its first position for the new life that is added to the mix. With the aged, the able bodied, generally children, assist the elderly parents, aunts, uncles and so on in the aging process in the pilgrimage home to God. And it too requires great sacrifice.

Likewise, we’ve encouraged my grandmother to not waste her suffering – her feeling of being imprisoned in her room, the monotony of the days, the humiliation of having her children change her, wash her and clothe her, the fade of this life and its pleasures and the fact that she has to walk by faith not by sight in belief of the life with God that is to come. We have encouraged her to know that she has some of the greatest power that we can have when we surrender our human will to the will of the Father to be used and disseminated for His glory. That our pain, weakness, lack, suffering is not in vain and can be offered and united to the Cross for our family members conversions, healings, for our own penance.

I miss her now and will miss her when. I’m grateful God has given me a continent in between to transition me for the time when He takes her to her Eternal Home. Her quiet and stoic love for her children and grandchildren that occupy her interior will become Heaven’s song as she becomes our fiercest intercessor. For now, I offer my distance as my “decrease” so the Lord will overshadow and be the increase for Catherine Patricia.

Praying for you and your loved ones+

Lexi

JMJ+

Falling into it

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THE HARVEST IS NOW

What I love about New England is the four seasons that constantly remind of change as we advance through life. I was home in Boston for two brief long weekends in the best of fall, my absolute favorite time of year. I get almost euphoric from the end of August into September in Massachusetts. Being so far away on the west coast, it was a surprise gift to be home twice during this fave season. The imprint of this trip showed me a little something about how God works.

The change in the air, the apples that are ripe and ready to be picked, the colors of the pumpkins in fields and the glory of summer transformed into a new heightened beauty and a feeling of abundance are all breathtaking. The visible sign of that which has been planted is now yielding good hearty fruit. Summer is so utterly spectacular and then you sometimes forget that there will be fall which is like a crowning glory, sneak attack for the senses that brings maturity to the whimsical days of June, July and August. The sun has a new glow, the moon hangs a little lower and the air that much more crisp.

We go through seasons in our lives where we may not see a lot happening. Like the dog days of summer. We are living, waiting,  praying through to get to the next level into His will and sometimes the wait is long, arid, and then, like summer transforming to autumn, you just fall into it. God starts handing out blessings in abundance and the overflow of grace produces gift after gift after gift and your eyes are opened to a burst of newness forgetting the wait that stretched every sensibility.

I’ve been off the grid of this little blog since August because God’s blessings have kept me so busy that suddenly I turned around and it’s October. I’ve been praying for a mighty overflow in many areas of my life and God is answering all these prayers one by one in manifold ways. The frenetic pace of 15 planes and 8 cities in a few months in non-stop motion has not provided a lot of time to process what God is doing in my life, but as I take this time to really reflect, I feel called to share with those of you who are waiting for breakthrough, answered prayer and for God’s blessing to reach your barn. Believe that what He has for you will come. Waiting doesn’t last forever. It’s a season.

You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoilIsaiah 9:3

What are you waiting for the Lord to do for you? Heal your broken heart? Move you out of that unfulfilling job? Bless your finances and untie the knot of debt? Bring you that God sent spouse? Heal you of disease? Bring forgiveness in a fractured relationship? He wants to fulfill the longing of your heart. Like the land where the fruit manifests, the land of your heart needs to be tilled, watered and made ready for what He is going to do.

It’s how we wait that determines the harvest we will yield. All that has been “planted” will produce a harvest. Plant in prayer. Plant in sacrifice. Plant in patience. Plant in belief in God’s ability to act for you. Plant in love even when enemies surround you. Plant in a witness that walks by faith not by sight. Plant in forgiveness to set yourself free for all the blessings He has for you. Plant in devotion in order to be empowered by God. Plant in silence in order to hear God. Plant in trust in order that God move for you. This type of planting will reap a bounty in your spiritual life and your corporal life and move you into the territory that God has squarely planned for you to fulfill your destiny.

Whatever you are going through, whatever you seek from above, do not give up but plant until the harvest bursts forth in overflow, brilliant color and all His glory.

Praying for you+

Lexi

Holy, Handsome Masculinity

 

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THE RETURN OF THE REAL MAN

Raise your hand if you find it really attractive when you meet a real man. I can see all your hands raised from where I sit.

And God so loved Hollywood that he sent (go with me here) His beloved Canadian son to LA LA Land to help guys man up in today’s confused cultural swirl. True story! I recently had the opportunity for a very lively and insightful conversation on Mary’s Touch Radio with “real man” Mark Matthews, founder of Bibles & Brew ministry. A great show for Mary’s Touch because after all, Our Lady had THE guy of guys assigned to her, leading her, agreeing with her, co-parenting the Son of the Living God. Mark shares his life of faith, journey from the Canadian prairies to the City of Stars, and the ways he’s actively leading men to live authentic masculinity in today’s world.

Sometimes you can’t quite put your finger on it, but there is an essence of a particular type of man when he lives out his God-given masculinity that makes you feel safe, protected, respected and regarded as gift and pursued in the way Christ pursues His Church. And it’s attractive, inspiring and a witness. And this has less to do with the exterior, but everything to do with the interior. And likewise, when men see an authentically feminine woman, it’s rare and attractive, yes?

On the show, Mark unpacks the Catholic viewpoint that men and women are created differently (on purpose!) smashing the world’s false human construct that says’ “we should do everything we can to tear down the differences between men and women.”

Some men struggle in today’s world because they didn’t have adequate fathering or mentoring from a man with a strong virtuous interior. There is also a cultural shift that has left some men emasculated in their homes, on the job and there is sin life that strips men of their true identity. Whatever the case, there are good holy men out there who are helping raise up a culture of true men to reclaim manhood under the Fatherhood of God.

So what makes a true man? Here are some of the attributes of masculinity:

  • INCARNATION: A true man will make things happen in this world
  • PROTECTOR: A true man is someone who protects those who cannot protect themselves
  • MENTOR: A true man will humbly teach and guide
  • CONFIDENCE: A true man sees something that needs doing and finds a way to meet that particular need as God’s co-creator in the world
  • LOVER: A true man is lover and is called to own his sexuality and use it for good; when a man is in full possession of his sexuality it becomes a gift

Please listen to our show HERE for the expanded details on the above…(and major points if you can identify the 80’s movie reference in the show!)

Mark hosts Bibles and Brew twice a month in Hollywood and he can help you establish a similar men’s fellowship group in your area. (Because a real man would just do it!) Visit BiblesAndBrew.com to connect.

What do you think? What makes a real man? What make a real woman? How do men and women compliment each other by living their true identity?

It takes heroic virtue to embrace the gifts God has bestowed. It takes heroic virtue to activate those gifts and bless the world with them. No matter how young or how old you are, it’s not too early or too late for you to become the man that God is calling you to be.

Guys, you are loved – our dads, granddads, husbands, future husbands, brothers, nephews, grandsons, cousins and friends. We need your masculinity and strength now more than ever. It’s attractive, holy and supernatural!

Praying for you+

Lexi

JMJ

Dropping the mic on the Single Nation

 

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                                 {YOU MIGHT WANT TO RAP THIS}

*Disclaimer: Sometimes I’m hilarious or cra or both – YES, I wrote this! And you should rap it (and make it go viral)) With love to my single friends who are sometimes dying inside.I heard from too many lonely hearts this week and this was my only reaction. Hold on…. and drop the mic on the single nation! XOXO, Lexi

This is for all you single ladies, commitment phobes, and serial daters, tempted to become complete and total haters. ..So you went out with him once, you had a hunch it wouldn’t be that easy, even though you don’t typically fall so head over heelsy…

He said “Yeah, catch ya later.” Later?

This leaves you asking your bestie, “Will he eva text me?”

“You can do better, girl…you are talking about forever, so what if he says whatever.”

Thinking, praying.. I’m just sayin’ why are all these good men waiting?

The good men are waiting, holding back… so we are datin’ the less desirable. No, no my standards are not that pliable. But it leaves me wondering…who exactly is viable?

Talk shows unpacking, matchmakers matchin’, single girls yackin’, saying today’s men are lackin’. Baby, are you trackin’?

Boy, you act so tough out in the world full of never enough. What will it take for you to surrender, to know that life can be better, just go and get her. Before you miss your chance, you know you gotta eventually advance.

She wants a man that is made of inner steel, someone who keeps it real who knows where to go when life gets hard and knows how to lean on the Master, not fearful of disaster and set on a God-sent ever after.

Love isn’t real until you give it away. There is freedom in this self-donation, believe me, it has the power to change the entire nation… why you waitin?

When did we become a world of ones, not twos? In this single nation of careers, fears, past hurt and most thinking it’s too much work – the ladies and the men, both feeling this now and then. . get on your knees and get into the mystery and ask Him to heal your generational history.

Thinking, praying. I’m just saying, why are all these good men waiting?

You’re used to being on your own, God said it’s not good for man to be alone. The Bible says a three-ply cord cannot be broken, this is His holy Word spoken. Guys, it’s time to get daring. She’s been waiting for someone caring.

Thinking, praying. I’m just saying, why are these good men waiting?

Love doesn’t come in a snap or an Instagram, but is part of His Divine Plan. If you think it’s glossy and sweet like some of your Tweets, you will miss the substance that will be the glue well beyond your honeymoon.

I meet so many single women, waiting praying wondering why are all these supposed good men waiting. They cry, sigh, struggle to keep their spirits high while they are waiting for good men to pursue them, woo them and ultimately “I do” them.

Girls even still, while you are waiting, lean not on your own understanding. There is a perfect plan, and He will bring you that man. It’s His timin’, he’s alignin’, all of heaven is conspiring for His Will to bloom in a glorious unfolding so your future is more than golden.

Thinking, praying,. I’m just saying, why are these good men waiting?

 I’m just saying, I’m gonna be praying.. praying that you real men step up and make your move, know you have nothing to lose, you can change the entire nation. Your forever is waiting.

{#singlenation}

Pushing intentions over the edge

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GOOD SAINT ANNE’S SWAY

When the power of God comes down, it’s a force that changes you. The Holy Spirit is a fire, a river, a mighty rushing wind.

As Catholics we pray, ”Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.” The saints are one with Christ and operate on our behalf. God is so generous, he enables us to collaborate with Him and share in the work of Salvation. The saints give glory to God as they work to lead us on the path to holiness. We don’t worship the saints; rather we ask them for their intercession and to recommend our needs to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus.

My grandmother had a devotion to St. Anne and said that after she prayed “St. Anne, St. Anne, send me a man if you can” that she met my grandfather. As a result, many of the women in my family have a variation of the saint’s name. I was given St. Anne as my patron at Baptism and have always prayed to her.

My mother and I share this and when I was just out of college, we both were formally consecrated under her patronage at St. Anne’s Shrine in Fall River, MA. It was a very serious and solemn consecration under her relics and with special prayers. I remember the borderline stern priest asking me the promises for consecration and the seriousness of the act are imbued in my soul. “Do you promise to raise your children in the Catholic faith?” asked the priest. “Yes.”

Again and with more urgency, “Do you PROMISE?”

“YES!”

I can’t say that I pray to Anne daily but she’s there. When I found out I would be traveling to Quebec for Mary’s Touch Radio Show to accept our Gabriel Award, I remembered that the Basilica of St. Anne de Beaupré was a place I needed to visit. As the days of the trip grew closer, I felt only something I can describe as a magnetic force within drawing me to make this mini pilgrimage for what’s coming next in my life.

I was Ubering all around Quebec for business at hand and someone told me you could Uber to St. Anne but not out. I wasn’t in the mood to be stranded in a foreign country on a Friday, so I found a short little bus tour that was going to stop at a quaint island and a stunningly beautiful waterfall – the Montmorency Falls. I thought – Island? YES! Waterfall? YES! I really only cared about St. Anne, but when in Quebec….Of course my little “day off” was a disappointingly overcast day complete with an unrelenting rain mist that left me, little Miss California, soaked through a fashionable non weather proof look and gave a slip in my step with my heely open toe shoes left to traverse a wet suspension bridge over the falls, because, when at a waterfall, you cross over it of course!

Despite the conditions and my non-tour bus persona, I entered in heartily to this experience. I felt like the people on the bus in Under the Tuscan Sun. First the island – checkered with colorful and quaint French homes, which made me wonder exactly who lived there, how did they get there and what did they do? The remoteness and beauty of this territory was a very romantic escape and a snapshot into the “New France” in a throwback sort of way. We stopped at a chocolatier and had a few sweet things in the breakfast hour. Sweetened up for the rest of the ride.

Then the Falls. I’ve never been to Niagara and they told me this was higher. It was a precursor to what would happen at the Basilica. The rushing water, its pounding unstoppable force and the clear direction of the falls and the water spray was rather mystical and exciting. The visual seemed like a metaphor for the way God moves with power. I walked over it, under it and could feel my heart pounding as the water moved in force. The beauty was exquisite how the water crashed up in artistic formation upon hitting the St. Lawrence River. God was showing off in His creation.

Our charming French guide wanted to make a few extra stops and I was suddenly getting frustrated that these diversions would cut into our (my) time at the Basilica. A couple from LA started to panic that they might miss their ship and an aunt and niece from Michigan refused to get off the bus for the stop at the Copper Museum. So did I. I didn’t need a ton of time at the Basilica, I just wanted to get inside – to be near her, to give her my heart, to remind her of my consecration and have her push things over the edge for me the same way the pounding waters crashed loudly over the falls into the St. Lawrence.

But when our French guide said we were going to Mary’s Bread, because the bread is so good and delicious and because Mary…. I started a little interior freak out. “If he’s only going to give us 20 minutes, that’s not enough. Lord, move this along. I believe in Mary and her ancient bread making business and I could eat about 50 croissants right now, but please get us there.”

I was contemplating Ubering and evacuating the bus. But I kept my cool. Finally, after our eclectic tour group ordered up bread enough to last the end of the world in the Quebec countryside, we made our way to the Basilica Shrine of St. Anne.

As we made our approach the driver announced, “YOU HAVE THIRTY MINUTES.”

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That’s it? I knew I should have rented a car. The bus stopped and I leaped over people and down the aisle to the door to position my exit.

“Open the door.” I started running up the hill and to the main entrance and my entire body began to shake and a power washed over me that words cannot describe. I was crying but not sad. I was trembling and nothing was wrong. It was like the power of God was rushing through me. I hurried through the main doors and a woman at the entrance announced “No photos until the conclusion of Mass.” I thought “GOOD, I may make Mass!” I ran down the main aisle and it was the absolute end of the end of Mass but at that very moment within the 3’oclock hour on the feast of the Sacred Heart, the priest announced that he was bringing out the first class relic of St. Anne to be venerated. The same pounding force was moving through me and the Holy Spirit was doing something dramatic.

Had we not stopped for the copper museum, and the bread, I would have been too early for the encounter with my saint. God knew the exact timing and He knows what He is going to do doesn’t take long.

The power of God was more manifest for me here than almost any other place on the earth I’ve visited. I was face to face with my Baptismal saint. I venerated her relic and again gave her my heart, my soul, my offering, my petitions. I took many others with me including my family most especially. And I took all the “Annes” in my life, and those who asked for specific prayers.

My prayers were simple and direct and after kneeling in this grand miraculous basilica where miracles have been happening since the first bricks were laid, and which prompted countless sick to leave behind their crutches, canes, and walkers, I know that. St. Anne has given my prayers to the Father, through the Son and with her daughter Mary, the Mother of God. And for that, you don’t need thirty minutes, because there is no time in Eternity. I know that Good Saint Anne took my everything my interior and my drenched pilgrim exterior and offered everything perfectly to Him.

When God is about to exact your victorious breakthrough, sometimes you have to pilgrim across a continent to know who is working on your behalf – God was showing me that the prayers of my youth were coming to the fore now and to fruition for the glory of God. Lest I ever forget St. Anne’s powerful and miraculous intercession for me, God sent me to Quebec.

Good St. Anne, pray for us!

Praying for you!

Lexi

JMJ+