“Give Me What I Need”

Today at Mass our pastor gave a homily about greed and material items and how we seem to need it when in reality we want it.  Our pastor went onto say that his friend would oftentimes give up a petition after a rosary asking God to “grant him only what he needs; not what he wants”.  This would be a challenging prayer for any of us because maybe what we need isn’t exactly what we want.


There’s Someone Out There for Everyone

Then after Mass I struck up a conversation with a fellow who I have not met before.  During the conversation he indicated that he just ended a relationship with his girlfriend and was back at Church looking for direction.  We’ve all heard the saying “there is someone out there for us” well if we try to find that person by ourself with no help from God we will miss the chance of meeting who God intended us to be with.  But if we, like this fellow I met, look to God to guide us then we will find that person we need to be with.

I was moved by this short conversation with this fellow and I applaud him for seeking direction from God and Church.

~God Bless


*image courtesy of http://josephinebila.com/6-life-quotes-my-mom-loves-to-say/

Introduction to Deacon Harold, The Dynamic Deacon and His Message on Marriage

Deacon Harold

Today I had a lot of drive time as I was in between meetings and traveling throughout Indiana visiting clients.  My last meeting got out at 5pm and I had a 2-hour drive home.  As I got through my last phone calls of the day I tuned into EWTN Radio because I always enjoy Catholic Answers from 6pm – 8pm.  WOW!  Was I glad I had a 2-hour drive home because the topic on Catholic Answers was “Preparing for your Catholic Marriage” with Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers aka The Dynamic Deacon.  The format of Catholic Answers is that people call in with Catholic questions on a certain topic and the radio guests will answer those question.  With today’s topic being on Catholic Marriage I was especially interested in what was being asked and how it was being answered.

This was my first introduction to Deacon Harold and after doing a bit of research after I got home I realized that he is a world-renown speaker on the topic of Catholic Marriage.  Not only is he knowledgable but he knows how to deliver a tough messages effectively.

If you are not aware of who Deacon Harold is I wanted to pass along a few links that will introduce you to great content and powerful videos that I hope inspire you and your marriage.



The Days are Long; The Years are Short – Is Parenthood Going too Fast?

A few months ago I heard my wife, Sarah, make the following comment:

“The days are long and the years are short”

We have 3 children who are 6 years old, 4 years old and 2 years old.  We also have our 4th baby due in a couple months.  So we are busy.  But isn’t every parent busy in one way or another?

Last night Sarah shared this video with me by Katrina Kenison called “The Gift of an Ordinary Day”.  Its a 7 minute video but it is moving.  As I watched it I was moved with emotion of just how fast my 6 years of being parent have been so far but I also kept thinking about my Mom and Dad and how time has flown by for them.  So I reflected on when it gets to 8pm at night I am ready for my kids to be bathed and ready for bed whereas by 8pm my parents would drop anything for a call from their children.

Am I going at this too fast?  How can I slow down?  The moment we had our first child every parent has told me “it goes fast, enjoy it”.  Well, I’m only 6 years into this and golly it goes fast.

Highlights from February 9 Marriage on Tap

Yesterday we had our second Marriage on Tap at Prairie View Golf Course. We were thrilled to have 50 couples join us for an evening of socializing, eating, playing games and hearing Lori Lowe speak. In just two events we have had 87 unique couples join us for Marriage on Tap.

At one point in the evening we had everyone stand up to see who in the room has been married the longest. As people were sitting down it was a blessing to see the number of couples still standing up as we got to the 40 year mark. But in the end, we had two couples standing who were both married for 49 years. The winning couple had the other couple by 9 days. But it was also a joy to see the couple who has been married for 2 years. It was a true testament that it doesn’t matter how many years you have been married – it always has to be worked on.

During the evening we had a chance to publically announce our blog, www.sacredembrace.org, as well as our Twitter, @sacred_embrace. We hope people start visiting our blog and follow up on Twitter. Also, we asked everyone there that if they feel compelled to write or share their story about marriage we invite them to contact us.

After our pasta dinner was served local marriage expert and blogger, Lori Lowe, spoke to us. Lori gave a great presentation on 12 tips married couples should be aware of to make their marriage successful. A few years back, Lori wrote a book on marriage and in doing her research she interviewed many married couples who have faced both hardships and happiness. The stories she shared with us were not only interesting but inspiring as well. As she went through her 12 tips she kept on referring back to various Bible verses and commented several times that the Bible has so much written on marriage.

Lori’s 12 Tips to a Thriving (Not Just Surviving) Marriage

  1. Things don’t always (or even usually) go as planned. – We can’t just overcome difficulties.We must be changed by them. How we respond matters most.
  2. Love is not enough to succeed in marriage
  3. Forgiveness is a gift for the giver and the receiver. Forgiveness is one of the hidden keys to a lifelong marriage.
  4. Love is sacrificial; learn to please one another
  5. The marriage is more important than the children (or the inability to bear children).
  6. Live with positivity & gratitude daily.
  7. Adversity isn’t a killer, it can be a strengthener.
  8. Happiness is NOT the goal of marriage.
  9. Have each other’s back. Be a team. Become one.
  10. Avoid addictions & obsessions
  11. Focus on strengths; don’t always work on your weaknesses.
  12. Our spouse cannot be our true source of joy.

But Lori’s best suggestion was to choose to love everyday.

After Lori’s talk we played a game called “So, You Think You Know Your Spouse” and for the second time in a row the women won this trivia game. But we think everyone seemed to enjoy the game anyways.

The night was supposed to end at 10pm but it seemed that people stayed until almost 11pm. Just like last month, there were many opportunities to meet new friends and reconnect with old friends. But most importantly, it was nice to reconnect with our spouses.

We hope to see you in March at Greek Tony’s.


Why Did Paul Write about Love?

The second reading from last Sunday (Feb 3, 2013) was from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians about love.  This is the common reading we often hear at weddings, including mine and Sarah’s.  I decided to dig a bit deeper into this reading and visited various websites to do my research.  I was truly intrigued by what I learned and just how powerful love truly is.

Why did Paul even write to the Corinthians? 

Corinth Greece 1024Corinth was a bustling port city in ancient Greece where Paul established an early Christian church.  Corinth was a tough community for Paul to convert.  The Corinthians seemed to have been stubborn and set in their own ways; after 18 months of evangelizing and establishing a Christian community, Paul felt it was time to leave.  But many issues quickly arose, and people in Corinth were not living up to the Christian values about which Paul preached.  With so many travelers in the area came sexual immorality; the citizens of Corinth were fighting and suing each other, people were drunk, and ultimately everyone was treating each other poorly.  The Church in Corinth was in trouble.

In that era, congregations did not gather in assemblies or halls but, rather, in homes.  Chloe was a Christian woman, the head of one of these homes. Chloe wrote a letter to Paul informing him about the corruption in Corinth and the fledgling Christian Church there, and asked him for advice and direction.

Paul’s response was detailed in his first letter to the Corinthians that we find in the New Testament. One of the first teachings that Paul brings up is that our body is sacred and a temple of the Holy Spirit.  He reminded the Corinthians about the importance of marriage and being loyal and faithful to your spouse. If someone was unmarried, he taught that they were to remain celibate and to refrain from sexual permissiveness.

Paul began to encourage the Corinthians to live as new persons in Christ.  To treat people with kindness, help the poor, and respect others – to live a life of metanoia, which is the conscientious turning away from an old life (of paganism) to new life in Jesus Christ.

And so here we are today.

As one reads the First Letter to the Corinthians, we as Christians need to bring the same message to our present day world. Between the conflicts across the globe, sexual immorality, hatred and other sins, we must still heed Paul’s message and apply it to our own situations.  But it’s Paul’s big finish that sums it up for all of us – the gift of love.  Paul emphasizes that what people want is love, and that love is the greatest gift God has given to us.  He wanted the Corinthians to love one other and to make love the reason for everything they did and said.  As Jesus taught.

all you need is loveLike most of us, each time I hear the reading about faith, hope and love–“and the greatest of these is love”–I immediately think about weddings and marriage.  But after studying more about Paul’s letter to the Corinthians I am convinced that love is everything.  And that The Beatles, though perhaps not great examples of how to live one’s life, had it right when they sang, “All you need is love.”

Q&A with Lori Lowe, Author and Marriage Blogger


Lori Lowe

On February 9 we are excited to host our next Marriage on Tap event and  to have Lori Lowe as our guest speaker.  Lori is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage and writer for the popular marriage blog, MarriageGems.com.  I had a chance to do a Q&A with Lori for our blog.  I have been impressed with Lori’s passion to marriages and how she has touched so many individuals with her writings.  I know that if you join us on Feb. 9 you too will be impressed.

Gary: Your blog, www.marriagegems.com, states that you are a journalist and not a marriage counselor. So why did you start the blog?
Lori: As a child of divorce, I personally experienced the effects of family division. And as a GenXer, I grew up during a doubling of the divorce rate when many friends and family members were going through a similar division. After getting married myself, I realized due to our life experiences, many married people lacked positive role models for how to work through challenges in relationships and to become stronger. As a journalist, I wanted to capture the stories of great role models and share what they learned. I investigated why some marriages quickly fail, and why others don’t just survive, they thrive, even when they face adversity. In conjunction with writing the book, I also read a lot of research on what makes relationships work well. I decided to share research-based marriage tips at my blog to help encourage couples, even couples who are doing well today. As a Catholic, I believe the state of our marriages and families is critical to our future.

Gary: I see that you have a book, an eBook, your marriage knowledge is published in many popular publications, and your blog is rated as the Top 10 Marriage blog on the Internet. Very impressive! Since this is not your career, then what is your objective with all your wonderful efforts?
Lori: My objective is to strengthen marriages for the benefit of the children in the families as well as the adults. Research is very clear that living with your married parents provides the most stable situation for children in terms of education, faith, physical and emotional safety. Research even says that children of divorce die an average of five years earlier than those from intact families. We’ve learned a lot in the last generation about what not to do when we put children through a divorce. We’ve also learned there’s no such thing as a “good divorce.” But the most important thing we’ve learned is that working on making a marriage better and keeping the family intact is usually the best option. Couples go through ups and downs in their relationships. Many who work through the down period end up with a much more fulfilling marriage and family life a few years down the line.  Most unhappy marriages can become happy again if they stay together and work to improve the relationship.

FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage

FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage

Gary: Can you tell us a little about your book?
Lori First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage tells the true stories of couples across the country who experienced a wide range of adversity and who used those situations as a means to strengthen their relationships. They experienced things like child loss, drug addiction, infertility, infidelity, life-threatening illness and accidents, opposing religions, bankruptcy, interfering family members, stranger rape, separation for military service and more. I learned some important lessons from them, which I share in my book.

Gary: The goal of Marriage on Tap is to make sure couples are making time for their marriage and join us for a date night. While interviewing couples for your book were there any stories you can share that touches on the importance of making time for each other?
Lori: In general, I would say if we are not growing together, then we are drifting apart. There is no middle ground. In addition, if we are not building up our spouse, then we are tearing them down. We need to take positive action to build up our marriage, or erosion will occur. That is evidenced in some of the stories, such as when infidelity occurred. Thankfully, there’s a lot we can do to strengthen our marriages, and it doesn’t require that much time or effort if done consistently.

Gary: Could you give us a trailer of what everyone can expect on Feb. 9 at Marriage on Tap?
Lori: I will share 12 lessons learned from couples across the country that I profiled in my book. These are 12 things that can and should be put into practice in every marriage to ensure that your marriage doesn’t just survive, it thrives.

Gary: In recent years, there has been lots of effort by the Catholic Church to educate Catholics on the importance of marriage. In your opinion what more can the leaders and members of the Catholic Church do?
Lori: I think we as a Catholic community should be doing a lot more to support marriage in general and especially marriages within our Church. While most Catholic churches have active marriage preparation programs, not many offer ongoing marriage education for young and/or mature married couples. Education and skills training has been proven in research to improve marital satisfaction. We also need to become very knowledgeable about what our Catholic faith teaches us about marriage as a sacrament. Couples who are more active in church attendance and practice do indeed have lower divorce rates, despite what you may have heard in the media. Strengthening our faith can positively impact our family lives. It would be nice if trained counselors were in every church, but due to the resources needed, more people need to step in and help. Even those of us without training as marriage counselors should consider getting involved and encouraging one another, even on an informal basis. We need to support families in crisis and help lift up children and families at risk of divorce. We also need more people who are willing to be a positive voice for marriage, which can be a wonderful vocation.

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