Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

This past week our church, Prince of Peace Catholic Church hosted a Parish Mission with guest speakers from the Newman Center at the University of Texas @ Austin. Our speakers, Father Ed Nowak and Carol Filip shared with us over the course of the four nights how we as baptized Catholics could grow and share our faith through a deeper understanding and commitment to our discipleship.

What a perfect time of year to focus on experiencing a deeper connection to our faith and learning to share it with others. During Advent, as we eagerly prepare for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ it is so important that we turn our focus to remaining in the Presence of Christ. It is so easy for us to be distracted and lose sight of just how precious a blessing our faith is.

On the first night of the mission we learned the importance of seeing others as Jesus sees them. So often we see the outward appearance of someone and think we know them, or perhaps we see someone behave a certain way and define them by their actions. God created each of us and he knows our hearts and souls, our weaknesses and strengths, our gifts and our needs. Imagine the difference in our society if we treated each person as if they were Jesus to us. If we looked at each person as if they were not flawed, but a blessing to us.

As a wife and mother, I try to keep this in mind as I go through my week. We will inevitably hurt or disappoint our spouse and they will also do the same to us. So, I try to look at my husband as Jesus would. If he says or does something that I find fault with, I remember that I too am imperfect and that I am certain there are times I disappoint or hurt him and little flaws or shortcomings are what make us beautiful. It is what we each do with our flaws that draw us closer to God.

On our second night of the Parish Mission, we learned to be a prophetic people and speak of our faith to others. In our daily lives, how often are we taking advantage of opportunities to tell others about Jesus? I am not saying to grab your soapbox and stand on the street corner professing the Gospel, this is a surefire way to turn others off to religion. I simply mean, don’t be afraid to share the good news of blessings in your life and encourage others to have faith and trust God. Father Ed shared a story of a time that he missed an opportunity to share his faith with someone. He said he was in a grocery store and the young man in line ahead of him was 25 cents short and he handed him a quarter. The cashier asked him why he did that and his response was, “We have all been a little short, I had the quarter, so why not help.” He realized later that he could have taken that opportunity to tell her that he was simply treating that young man as he would treat Christ. Our Commandments tell us to Love our God above all else and to Love our neighbor as ourselves.

It made me think of how we are living examples of our faith at all times. Our actions and the way we interact with others each day serve as testimony to others. We shouldn’t be afraid to stop and pray for others or tell someone we will pray for them. Also, when someone asks you a question about why you choose to live a certain way or make the choices  you make, don’t be afraid to site your faith as a reason for your choices. Reminding others that a faith life doesn’t simply mean we attend church services each Sunday, but we make little choices every day that draw us closer to God and we perhaps don’t partake in certain activities because we don’t feel they would be healthy for our relationship with Christ.

The third night we learned about becoming the Light of Christ and passing along our faith in our daily lives. Father Ed told a story about a priest that said one of the reasons he became a priest was that there was a boy at his school who always prayed before his meals and he would see him do the Sign of the Cross and that served as an example to him of living your faith every day no matter where you are or what you’re doing. I chuckled to myself when he shared this with us because our youngest son has a friend whose mom shared with me that her son came home from school and showed his family how to begin and end your prayers with the Sign of the Cross like his friends Darby and Lincoln do, that was a proud mom moment knowing that my child was practicing his faith at school and sharing his faith with others. I often tell my children and my Religious Education students that knowing us is sometimes the only bible others will ever “read” so we can share our faith through our daily actions.

On our fourth and final night of the Parish Mission, we learned about Reconciliation and forgiveness. Not only does this mean reconciling ourselves with God, but being forgiving of others. Each day little choices we make chip away at our relationship with God, so it is vital that we examine our actions and reconcile ourselves with God. Little sins committed regularly can often grow into bigger and bigger sins driving us farther away from Christ and making us feel as though we have gone so far in the wrong direction that we may never see a way to come back to our faith. The same is true with our willingness to forgive others. When someone hurts us, they may not ask for forgiveness or apologize, but it is vital to our souls to be forgiving and to love others. If someone hurts you, know that whether it was intentional or not, they are only human and call to mind the times you yourself have hurt others and think how you would feel if someone didn’t forgive you.

We ended our evening with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Many Protestants ask about this Sacrament, wondering why we feel as Catholics that we have to confess our sins to a priest. I always explain it like this, we can confess our sins to God and ask forgiveness, but often discussing our choices and actions with a priest is very helpful in guiding us to not commit these sins over and over. I feel it holds us accountable for our actions and the advice of a priest gives us another perspective on the choices we make.

Overall, these four nights were such a blessing for our family and our parish. Not only were the lessons and discussions enlightening, but the fellowship during the social time afterward was nourishing to our souls.

I encourage you to find some time during this season of Advent to practice fellowship with others and examine your own relationship with God. Actively pursue your faith and encourage your loved ones and friends to participate daily in living the Gospel. If each of us focus on living the Gospel, our impact on the world will begin to effect others and society as a whole. Many of the current problems with society are directly related to our lack of faith and responsibility.

If you would like more information about this Parish Mission, I can email you copies of the notes from each night. Feel free to send me a request at [email protected] with MISSION as the subject.


So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Traci Runge

Traci was born and raised in San Diego and has called Kearney, Nebraska home for the past 18 years. She is married to Darby Runge and together they have 6 children. They own and operate Pro-Tint, a window tinting business. Along with being a full-time mom, Traci is also a Manager and Certified Trainer with SendOutCards, she works with businesses and individuals to build relationships and grow their income through Relationship Marketing. Traci works hard to balance her roles of mother, wife and business owner. She strives to help make the world a better place through kindness and love and leading by example. Traci is committed to her family, church and community and can often be found volunteering in some capacity. www.sendoutcards.com/tracirunge

Going to Church with Kids is Hard but We’ll Keep Showing Up

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding young daughter in church

Going to church is hard with young kids. It used to be something I looked forward to. It’s something I’ve always valued deeply and needed desperately. It’s the one place that will always be home regardless of what location or building it’s in or what people attend. Church is my sanctuary. But it’s become a battle with the kids’ resistance, my tired mind and body, and my lack of ability to actually listen to the sermon. Going to church is hard with young kids. It’s become normal for me to lie down in bed on Saturday night thinking, with dread,...

Keep Reading

I’m Praying for My Teenager in These Challenging Years

In: Faith, Motherhood, Teen
Teen boy holding a smartphone and wearing headphones

In my mid-40s, I began to long for a baby. We didn’t get much encouragement from friends and family. My husband is a high-functioning quadriplegic, and I was considered way too old to start a family. But our marriage was stable, we were used to obstacles, we were financially prepared, emotionally experienced, and our careers were established. I began to paint my own sublime mental portrait of parenting tranquility. What could go wrong? At 48, I delivered a healthy baby boy, and he was perfect. We adored him. The baby we had longed for and prayed for, we had. And...

Keep Reading

When Motherhood Feels Like a Limitation

In: Faith, Motherhood
Ruth Chou Simons holding book

Twenty-one years ago, my husband Troy and I welcomed our first son into the world. Two years later, I gave birth to another boy. And again two years later, and again two years after that. A fifth boy joined our family another two years later, and a final son was born 11 years after we began our parenting journey. If you were counting, you’re not mistaken—that’s six sons in just over a decade. We were overjoyed and more than a little exhausted. I remember feeling frustrated with the limitations of the little years with young children when I was a...

Keep Reading

The Day My Mother Died I Thought My Faith Did Too

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Holding older woman's hand

She left this world with an endless faith while mine became broken and shattered. She taught me to believe in God’s love and his faithfulness. But in losing her, I couldn’t feel it so I believed it to be nonexistent. I felt alone in ways like I’d never known before. I felt helpless and hopeless. I felt like He had abandoned my mother and betrayed me by taking her too soon. He didn’t feel near the brokenhearted. He felt invisible and unreal. The day my mother died I felt alone and faithless while still clinging to her belief of heaven....

Keep Reading

Jesus Meets Me in the Pew

In: Faith
Woman sitting in church pew

I entered the church sanctuary a woman with a hurting and heavy heart. Too many worries on my mind, some unkind words spoken at home, and not enough love wrapped around my shoulders were getting the best of me. What I longed to find was Jesus in a rocking chair, extending His arms to me, welcoming me into his lap, and inviting me to exhaust myself into Him. I sought out an empty pew where I could hide in anonymity, where I could read my bulletin if I didn’t feel like listening to the announcements, sing if I felt up...

Keep Reading

Can I Still Trust Jesus after Losing My Child?

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Sad woman with hands on face

Everyone knows there is a time to be born and a time to die. We expect both of those unavoidable events in our lives, but we don’t expect them to come just 1342 days apart. For my baby daughter, cancer decided that the number of her days would be so many fewer than the hopeful expectation my heart held as her mama. I had dreams that began the moment the two pink lines faintly appeared on the early morning pregnancy test. I had hopes that grew with every sneak peek provided during my many routine ultrasounds. I had formed a...

Keep Reading

5 Kids in the Bible Who Will Inspire Yours

In: Faith, Kids
Little girl reading from Bible

Gathering my kids for morning Bible study has become our family’s cornerstone, a time not just for spiritual growth but for real, hearty conversations about life, courage, and making a difference. It’s not perfect, but it’s ours. My oldest, who’s 11, is at that age where he’s just beginning to understand the weight of his actions and decisions. He’s eager, yet unsure, about his ability to influence his world. It’s a big deal for him, and frankly, for me too. I want him to know, deeply know, that his choices matter, that he can be a force for good, just...

Keep Reading

Mad Martha, Mary, Mom, and Me

In: Faith, Living
Woman wrapped in a blanket standing by water

As a brand-new, born-again, un-churched Christian fresh in my new faith with zero knowledge of the Bible, I am steaming, hissing mad when I first read these words from Luke 10:38-42: “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell...

Keep Reading

I Can’t Pray away My Anxiety But I Can Trust God to Hold Me through It

In: Faith, Living
Woman with flowers in field

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t afraid. I was scared of people, of speaking, and even of being looked at. As I got older, I worried about everything. I was aware of the physical impact that stress and worry have on our bodies and our mental health, but I couldn’t break the cycle. I declined invitations and stuck with what I knew. Then we had a child who knew no fear. The person I needed to protect and nurture was vulnerable. There was danger in everything. It got worse. He grew older and more independent. He became a...

Keep Reading

Your Kids Don’t Need More Things, They Need More You

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young girl smiling together at home

He reached for my hand and then looked up. His sweet smile and lingering gaze flooded my weary heart with much-needed peace. “Thank you for taking me to the library, Mommy! It’s like we’re on a date! I like it when it’s just the two of us.” We entered the library, hand in hand, and headed toward the LEGO table. As I began gathering books nearby, I was surprised to feel my son’s arms around me. He gave me a quick squeeze and a kiss with an “I love you, Mommy” before returning to his LEGO—three separate times. My typically...

Keep Reading