To Blog or Not to Blog

I'm sorry

For those of you who still follow this blog, I’m shocked; I’m also sorry for not being consistent with my posts. I’m hoping to change that going forward and try to post at least once a month at a minimum.

where-have-you-been

So why the hiatus? I guess you can say it’s been multiple reasons; some good, some bad, but still, there were enough to keep me distracted from my blog. 2019 like any other year, has been a year of ups and downs; mostly downs though.

Earlier in the year, I dropped out of the deacon formation program and that sent me off on a tailspin. I never wanted to drop out however, due to circumstances beyond my control, it was in my best interest and that of my family, to get out. The healing from that continues though. A few months later, one of our fellow diaconate brothers who left the program last summer took his own life. It didn’t make sense then, it still doesn’t make sense and it probably never will. The healing also continues from that event. A couple months after that, our business loses our biggest client. Another situation that was beyond my control but, it still impacts us. There have been a few other business-related matters that have risen in which we will have to wait and see what happens going forward.

therapy

Needless to say, I started therapy earlier in the year. As it has progressed and times have gotten tougher throughout the year, my therapist and doctors have been a blessing. I believe that my diagnosis is spot on and there is a plan that we’ve implemented to help me address my issues and move forward to a more normal life. Baby steps. Please, don’t ever make fun of people who are seeking help. I used to be that asshole that did that and look at me now. This world can be pretty messed up to put it lightly and there are many of us who have grown up in non-typical environments that have left us bruised, wounded and scarred. Instead of making fun of us, take the time to get to know us and listen to us, if we are willing to talk.

faith

My faith means a lot to me. Let me rephrase that, my Catholic faith means a lot to me. Ever since coming back to the Church in 2012, my faith journey has been a roller coaster of a ride, to say the least. This year really tested that faith, especially during that first half of the year. But I trust in Jesus Christ, my God, to get me through all of this as he has done before. Even if the outcome is not how I wanted it to be, I trust that it was His will that was done and not mine and that it was for the best.

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Cast No Stones

So was it all bad this year? Absolutely not. I started playing with a couple of men back in March of this year just for rest and relaxation and it turned into a group. The name of our band is Cast No Stones and if you get a chance, check us out on Facebook. We played our first show in October to a packed house at the Little Toad Creek Brewery in Silver City, NM and it was a fun night. Our next show will be a private party at the Elks Club on New Year’s Eve. Playing in the band has been a form of therapy for me as well.

Dream Theater

Dream Theater – Distance Over Time Tour October 26, 2019

I also went with a good friend of mine and saw Dream Theater for the first time in October and I was blown away. Definitely, the best show that I’ve ever been to.

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I had lunch with that friend of mine that I went to the concert with and we’ve decided to launch another Catholic men’s group for our area. We have a few men who are interested in joining to see what it’s all about. We truly believe that there are many men out there in the world who are hungering for something. They are trying to fill that hunger with other things in life and finding out that they are still hungry at the end of the day. We want to lead these men and ourselves to the living bread, Jesus Christ. As scripture says, “As iron sharpens irons, so one man sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17

So I take the bad with the good and I thank God for the blessings and lessons that he has bestowed upon me this year. I had to take time to sit back and think about what I was going to say and then I remembered; mi viaje – my journey, that is what my blog is about, my life and my journey and how I wanted to share it with the world. Please keep me in your prayers and know that I’m praying for you. Until next time, buen camino.

Time Marches On

Time

So since I last posted, I have made many changes in my life. Some good, some bad (working on the bad ones), ultimately, I’ve been trying to get myself to a place where I am happy…if that makes any sense? Let me elaborate on that a little more.

CHANGES

Changes In My Life

Spiritual

When I decided to leave the diaconate formation, it got me very upset, mostly at a few individuals and at the diocese itself. I feel that my reasons for being upset are justifiable however, my reaction to the situation was wrong. I’ve since corrected my errors and am working towards a more healthier outlook on the situation that transpired.

I also decided to remove myself from any and all church ministries and councils that I was a part of. I know, it seems very erratic and extreme but, hear me out. I came back to the Catholic Church in November of 2012 and right from the get-go I was involved in various ministries within my parish. I had this reckless mentality of all in or all out and I decided that I was all in and I often times took on more than what I should have. In the end, I ended up getting burnt out and dropped out of the ministries only to join another one down the road.

Since coming back to the Church, I never took time to just “go to mass” and just participate in mass that way. Just to sit in the pew and be there, with Jesus, no distractions. This Sunday was my first time getting to experience the mass in a whole new way, without worrying about helping or anything else. This is why I decided to get out of my ministries and such, to live my life with Jesus without distractions for now. And if and when the time comes that He should want me to do something within the Church, I will do so at that time but for now, I will continue in this new way for me.

 

Personal

Last year I gained 30 lbs. Why? Because I didn’t care or watch what I was eating, hence, I got to the heaviest point in my life, 320 lbs. Last Monday I finally decided that enough is enough and I need to take care of myself. I weighed in at 312 lbs. I started to watch what I was eating, keeping my carbohydrate intake to a minimum, stopped drinking diet sodas, and didn’t have a single “sugar” dessert for 6 days (Sunday was cheat day). This morning I weighed in at 308 lbs and I will start going to the gym today to work on my cardio and strength training. I’m not a spring chicken anymore (I’ll be 52 in May) so I better start doing something now before it’s too late.

For peace of mind, I started to go fishing again (it had been 7 years since I’d been) and I have been jamming with a few other guys (drums) and just having fun with it all. Being out in nature helps to calm the mind and places me at peace with God’s creations. Jamming out, on the other hand, helps me with my creativity.

sums it up

Yeah, so that pretty much sums it up for now. I’m going to enjoy these changes that have taken place in my life, embrace them as best as possible and try my hardest to keep living the life that God created me to live. Until next time, buen camino and God bless.

 

End of One Chapter

diaconate

This may come as a surprise to some of you and then again, maybe it won’t but, my journey into the permanent diaconate has come to an end. Based off many variables, my bride and I have decided that this just isn’t the time to continue that journey.

 

wwc fire

This is a good thing for me. I learned a lot about my faith during these past two and a half years and it will help me further along in my new journey of forming another men’s ministry. My passion has always been in men’s ministry; encouraging men to grow closer to God, encouraging them to go back to Church and get involved, and encouraging them to become the leaders, protectors, providers, and priest of their homes.

mark and john

Me, Deacon Lou, and Mark

What I’m going to miss the most though are those interactions with my brother Mark. Know that my prayers are always with you and your family as you continue the journey.

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For all of you who prayed for my family and me during this journey, “Thank You” very much! I ask for your continued prayers as I try to work on the next part of my journey. Until then, keep both eyes on the path and watch out for that chicken. God bless.

 

PS: Stop by and visit www.wwildwestcatholic.com when you get a chance.

 

Negative Influences

stop_negativity

This is the day. This is the day that I say “NO” to negativity! This is the day that I stop falling for the nonsense that enters into my life. This is the day that I stand by Jesus Christ and ask him to help me be a better man.

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This journey with Christ has not been an easy one but then again, nobody ever said it would be. As a matter of fact, some of the most influential people that I have met so far in my journey with Christ have told me how hard it is and how much harder it will get for me. One of my earlier spiritual directors told me, “The closer you get to God, the harder Satan will try to trip you up.” Some days the devil can’t trip me up for nothing, and others days, it’s not even a challenge for him. So what is a person to do?

angel

Ugh. There he goes again

There are some people in my life who I dearly love but at times, they can be a negative influence on me. I fall into their trap and end up acting the fool. I know the problems that have been plaguing me lately. Listening to gossip or doing it myself, feeding into negative actions such as cursing and being inconsiderate towards others feelings or being spurned onto these actions by friends and family. It’s as though I can hear my guardian angel say, “Hey look out there’s a ….. never mind, too late” and I fall again. This is the day that it ends. As my bride likes to say, “one can not walk with the Lord while holding hands with the devil.”

 

sin kills

Sin kills. When we give into what the devil is feeding us, we die. Sin kills, plain and simple. Have you ever payed attention to your sinful patterns? One little venial sin here, another one there, and another and another and another until there is this big pile of venial sins. When there is no more room for venial sins we end up giving into mortal sins, sins that separate us from or push us away from Christ. The more we give into venial sin, the easier it is to fall into the trap of mortal sin. Sin is the thing that keeps me away from the peace, the peace of Christ that I am looking for. That quiet, peace. Only through the grace of God will I be able to turn over a new leaf. And although I have calmed down quite a bit compared to my old self, that “old self” likes to try and sneak in from time to time to cause havoc.

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I want that peace of Christ and I want it now. In a world full of noise, sometimes noise that I create myself, I want peace. I’m tired of the negativity. It’s like carrying a heavy load and I don’t want to carry it any longer. So, to my family & friends who are having issues in their lives, I’m sorry you are going through what you are going through and I pray that you get through it soon, but your negativity is not helping me so I will take a step back, I will pray for you, and I will be there when you need to talk. If I want to find peace in myself, I need to look for it through and with Christ. You are always welcomed to join us.

 

 

 

 

Evangelize From Anywhere

Some people have a problem with Disney and anything associated with them. To each their own. I’m not a huge fan but my family is and I enjoy seeing them happy considering how I failed to do so in the early years of being a husband and father and I didn’t make them happy then but that’s another story for another time.

People have their reasons for their dislike of Disney and some use their religion to push their agenda on others; “They support same sex marriage,” or “They support Planned Parenthood.” If those are your main reasons for not supporting a company, better do your homework Jack! There are many companies who do the same thing and unless you are living off the grid, you should re-evaluate your argument or learn what it means to be a Christian.

Christians should be able to evangelize from anywhere under any circumstances. What you do says more than what you say, you know the old cliché; “actions speak louder than words.”

While on our family break here at Disneyland, every time I saw a young couple (male & female) attempting to take a selfie while trying to capture the background, I stepped up and offered to take the picture. Each time the couples were ecstatic that I offered and were pleased with the photo(s). When I handed the phone back back I said the same thing, “have an awesome day and God bless you.” Simple right?

My bride and I walked around holding hands and by our actions, we showed our love for each other and what true Christian matrimony is all about. Simple, easy and fun to do.

So, whether you’re at Disneyland or out on the streets, profess your love of God. Bless others, express generosity, and be the person God made you to be.

Two Years Down

hourglass

Two years down, two years to go. My journey towards becoming a permanent deacon has been…well, a journey. There have been highs and lows but the journey has been awesome so far.

Laughing.gif

There’s an old saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I really wish I remembered that one before I started the diaconate formation program LOL. I had already started to plot out what I was going to do if and when I became ordained a deacon. I’m laughing about it now because two years into the program, I don’t have a single plan and I’m going to leave it all in the hands of God…just like I should have all along.

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Obedience & being a servant have been the keys all along. Being obedient to the changes that you need to go through, obedient and a servant to your priest, your wife, your family and others.

Some of the best words of advice in regards to diaconate formation came from my deacon adviser, he said, “Be like clay.” I try my hardest everyday to do just that. Everyday I learn something new about my faith and quite often, about myself. Today is a great day…it’s a great day to be a Christian! Buen Camino everyone & God bless.

Evangelize: But be yourself

Evangelist

Upon my return back to the Catholic Church, I came across an abundance of Catholic Evangelist that heavily influenced me during that time. Names like Joe McClane, Scott Hahn, Jesse Romero, Bear Woznick, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Fr. Larry Richards, Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers and many more. Their words, their charisma, their message, the whole package of what they had to offer inspired me and motivated me to do the same thing…go out an evangelize.

GreatCommission

The problem with that though is I was going out and trying to sound like them. My thought process was “If what they say has such an impact on me, I can say the same things they are saying to others and impact them!” WRONG! This is a cardinal mistake made by a person who is so full of zeal and so fresh into the Catholic Church or returning to the Church. That was me at the time. I should’ve been recommending people to listen to their message instead of trying to be a poor clone of them.

Robert Downy Jr

 

Funny thing is that I see others doing the same thing. STOP! That’s not you. You are not Joe McClane, you are not Scott Hahn and you sure aren’t Jesse Romero. Just be you.

just-be-you1

I’ve since learned just to evangelize and to do it as John. That is who God made me to be…John. Not Father Larry or Deacon Harold, just John. And you know what? Evangelizing as just John is alright because that was God’s plan all along.

God's plan

 

Remembering to do His will instead of ours places the focus back on where it needs to be, the message of God and not the messenger. If we are truly to evangelize then we must realize that it isn’t about us…it’s about Him and His message. We are just the tools that He uses to get that message out to the people we encounter.

 

May God continue to bless you and all that you do for His Kingdom! Buen Camino.