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3/13/2016

Walking on Water

Oh how our God loves us.  For nearly the past two years I have felt the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart and have felt God calling me to something greater than I could even dream of for myself.  Although at this moment I don’t know exactly what that may be, these past many months I continue to have vivid dreams and visions of being in small fishing boat that is being tossed among a giant storm in the ocean.

With all my might I cling to that boat doing all that I can to feel safe and secure but then off in the far distance I see Him, a figure emerging walking on the water emanating pure light and total love and I can hear his voice calling out to me, inviting me to come out to Him.


Everything in my mind and body says, “You're crazy, whatever you do, do not let go of this boat! For it is only in this boat that you will be safe. If you step out Lorissa, you...will... fail. You will drown! ”  But then my heart and my soul cries out even louder, “Go, Lorissa, run out to Him, you can do this, He will save you!”



It’s amazing how God works.  Sometimes the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit are well….gentle.  And then there are other times that the Holy Spirit makes himself loud and clear.   Lately His calling to follow Him with total trust and complete surrender is louder than ever.  I am certain that I have no option other than to be obedient to that call.

Therefore, on this somewhat cold and dismal rainy March day, I have taken the first step needed to begin to follow Him in a new way.  Today, I "let go" of the boat in order to step out into the deep.  It is both scary and exciting and in the eyes of the world, completely illogical.  And yet, when God calls us to do something, it rarely makes sense in the eyes of the world.  However, it is also in that place of surrender that we can be assured that miracles will abound.  I am certain that I would both rather walk on water or even begin to sink and have our Lord save me, than remain at a distance clinging to a boat that feels “safe” but will never be able to fulfill the greatest desires of my heart.


So my friends, what I am trying to say is that after twenty years of serving as the Coordinator of Youth Ministry for St. John’s Cathedral, I have given my notice to step away from this position at the end of May.   It is with the greatest joy that I look back at the past 20 years and see how God has blessed my life in so many incredible ways with extraordinary friendships, wonderful memories and countless miracles.  It is here at St. John’s that God led me to my vocation and my husband, the greatest gift of my life.  It is here that each of my precious children have been welcomed and loved by so many and it is here in this very special community that my heart overflows with gratitude and so much abiding love.  I have truly loved being the youth minister here and I am so thankful for the many young people who God has entrusted to me that have shown me His love and truth in so many ways.  

To all the youth that Johnny and I have worked with over the years:  Please know that we love you dearly.   We pray that you would always love God and that you would follow Him in your daily life.  One thing I know without doubt,  He will never let you down.

To Alex and the core team and to all those I’ve had the great honor of working with on our youth ministry team: Thank you for your love and commitment to our young people.  Thank you using your gifts and talents to glorify God.  Thank you for being our friends and our support over the years. You inspire us and we’ve felt so very honored to serve in this great work of youth ministry beside you.

To my family, especially my parents and sister: Throughout all these years and especially the past several months you have been a refuge of wisdom, guidance, prayer and support. Oh, how blessed am I to be your daughter and sister.

Finally, to Johnny: You are my rock, my strength and my greatest gift!  Thank you for joining me on this extraordinary adventure the past 13 years.  I love you and I look forward to all that lies ahead. 

I am very confident that God will bring forth someone amazing to continue to lead and build on the work that both Johnny and I have done over the years and I am excited to watch the youth program at St. John’s continue to grow and thrive in new ways as the hearts and souls of our young people continue to be drawn closer to our Lord.

There is a season for everything.  My season as the Coordinator of St. Johns Youth Ministry Program is coming to an end, but my desire to continue to use my gifts and talents to serve Christ and His Church remain as strong as ever. 

I honestly do not know what God has in store for Johnny and I as we step into this next “season” but undoubtedly we will together step out of the boat keeping our eyes focused on Him.  We trust that He will allow us to walk on water.

To my family and family, I ask two things from you at this time.
1) Please keep us in your prayers.
2) Please speak up for me.  Sometimes, when a person steps away from a position, it causes others to think that they left because they were not happy with their job or that they were dissatisfied in some way.  I’m afraid that rumors might start and that people may think this. If you hear anything like this, please speak up and let people know that is not the case.  I want to make it clear that the reason I’m stepping away is because I truly feel that God is calling me to do this and both Johnny and I are striving to honor Him.  My greatest fear is that the past 20 years of dedication to the service of our young people and the Church might somehow be overshadowed by rumors of discontent.  Please honor me by not allowing those rumors to spread.

The past several months, I’ve prayed so many times the following words from the song “Oceans” by Hillsong.   I want to close out this post with a portion of this song, along with a sincere prayer for all of us. 

"Dear Lord, please give us all the courage to not only sing the words of this beautiful song but to truly pray them from the depths of our souls.  May we trust in You completely, knowing that YOU have great plans for each of us.  Call us out to you and let us walk on water, so that our lives might be a powerful witness to You and Your glory, always and forever.  Amen."

Oh, I love you all so very, very much!   ~ Lorissa

OCEANS 
You call me out unto the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find you in the mystery
In oceans deep
 My faith will stand

And I will call upon your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in your embrace
For I am yours and you are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me……           


3/07/2016

Last week...

Last week my boys piled into the car and instantly I realized they were fired up about something.  Talking over each other a million miles a minute they started to bombard me with questions about the death penalty (which I still have no idea how that topic came up to begin with).  Being slightly caught off guard by such a heavy topic, I took a deep breath as they continued to pour out questions to me about what my thoughts were on the subject.  "Mommy, what if someone set's off a bomb in a building and a bunch of people die, would that person get the death penalty?"  Mommy, doesn't someone who kills other people on purpose deserve to be put to death?"  "Mommy, do they still electrocute people or hang them?"   Yikes!  As a mother, where do you start?

At that moment, I took a deep breath and said a little prayer asking for the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Also, I knew from my experience as a youth minister to not just answer their questions directly.   I wanted to really make sure they were listening and engaged.  So, I began to ask them questions instead.  I wanted them to really think about this before I gave my answer and I also wanted to have a better idea of what they were thinking and feeling.  By some of their answers I could tell that one of my boys felt very strongly that the death penalty was acceptable and fair.  He also happens to be my child who is always the "fair" and "just" one in our family.  The other two were not quite sure what they believed.

Finally after I asked them a series of questions, they were waiting intently for my answer.  They wanted to know, "Mommy, what do you believe?!"

I answered, "Well guys, I believe what the Church teaches on this topic."  And then I proceeded to teach them the Church's teaching on this.  Now this was when our conversation really got exciting.  We talked about God's justice, but also about His mercy.  We talked about conversion and salvation.  We talked about DNA evidence and court trials and the possibility of someone being falsely accused and what that would feel like. We talked about the Church's teachings on the dignity of life from the moment of conception until natural death.  We talked about how people are executed today and some of the implications of that.  We talked about how we ourselves sometimes make mistakes and do things we regret and we talked about the power of forgiveness and healing.  We also talked about how a lot of the people that end up making really bad mistakes that go to prison for things like murder might have grown up in families where they didn't experience a lot of love or might have greatly been hurt themselves most of their lives.

As our conversation started to come to an end, I could tell that my boys were really thinking about things and I was grateful when my one son responded, "Mama, I think I was wrong about this.  What you are saying makes a lot of sense."

I told them that I was thankful and proud of them for having such a great conversation and I reminded them that topics like this one are really hard for even adults to understand much less 8, 10 and 11 year olds.  Then (thankfully) our conversation moved on to another very important topic in the lives of my boys; their baseball tryouts that took place earlier that day.

Later that night after they were in bed and I began reflecting on this conversation and I found myself incredibly thankful for several things.  First of all, I was thankful that my children are eager to ask both Johnny and I questions, even if they are difficult ones and I prayed that this would always be the case.  But most especially, I was thankful that in this situation I was able to answer their questions, not with my opinions but with the Church's teaching.  When it comes to difficult questions, particularly in regard to moral issues, the Church's teachings are based on Truth and over 2000 years of wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit.  If all I had to offer my children was my opinion or my personal beliefs, well I'm afraid that I would often times steer them in the wrong direction.  I am humble enough to admit that I've been wrong many times before and my opinions, which are mostly based on my own personal experiences, are not always right.

Even in regards to this topic on the death penalty, my thoughts and opinions have changed over the course of my life and most especially after spending two years doing prison ministry.  If asked these same question 20 years ago, my opinion on them would have been drastically different than it is today.

The world we live in is incredibly complex and the issues we face today can be overwhelming for people of all ages.  Being a parent who is trying to navigate the hearts of small children is even more difficult.  Things are not always black and white but I've come to know that that Church's teachings on life issues and on all moral issues are beautiful even in their complexities.  I am thankful that I have a strong understanding of most of the Church's teachings and even when I don't I know all that the Church has to offer on different issues, I at least know where to find it.

This is what I want my children to understand as they grow up and are faced with these types of moral  dilema's.  That the Church in her wisdom, beauty and authority offers us so much.  We don't have to figure things out on our own, we can go to her and be formed by her.  And when we do, things just seem to make sense.

Our Catholic faith is truly a treasure chest of riches that never runs out.  How blessed are we that have access to all that lies within it.














11/30/2015

New designs on Catholic Threads!

I'm so excited because we have a few new designs that are hot off the press over at Catholic Threads just in time for CYBER MONDAY!  Plus, if you are looking for some fun and creative Catholic gifts to give this year, check out our "free shipping" code at the end of this post!

Here is a sneak peak of our super soft new designs!
























Also, many of shirts are on sale right now too!  

FREE SHIPPING CODE IS: shopsmall (ends at midnight tonight)



11/26/2015

Thankful..

At the end of most days I try to take a few moments to reflect on the blessings in my life and the many people and experiences for which I am thankful.  However, at least once a year it seems fitting to put those thoughts to words and then hit "publish".  Here is my 2015 Thanksgiving reflection.  

I am thankful for him. 


In the past six months you little Dominic have brought so much happiness and joy to our lives.  I am head-over-heals crazy in love with you and although you are our sixth child, I still find myself caught off guard by how much I love you and how God continues to expand my heart, even when I thought it couldn't possibly get any bigger.  I am also thankful for the ways in which you seems to bring out the best in your brothers and sister.  


I can tell that God is using you to expand each of their little hearts as well.  I wonder if you will ever know how great of a gift you are to us?  





I am thankful for him.



Oh, where are the words to describe you my sweet (and sometimes cunning) little Matthew?  When I come home from work and walk through the door your little body comes at me in full force with a hug that has the power to nearly take me out.  I can't begin to tell you how much I love this and how much I look forward to walking through that door!  You are charming and smart and somehow know exactly how to melt my heart especially when you are getting into trouble.


You always make us laugh and keep us highly entertained with your big personality, mischievous antics and fierce love. 

Oh, and those huge, deep brown eyes of yours.... well, sometimes there just aren't words to describe what they do to me.  




I am thankful for her.  

Oh how I love you, princess Gianna.  I love the way you smile from morning to night and how your laugh is absolutely contagious.  


You have a gentle nature and an innocent heart and although you are only six years old, I have deep admiration for you my sweet daughter.  I admire your quiet confidence,  subtle strength and your ability to see the best in others.  I admire the way you fit in so well with your brothers while standing out as the amazing little girl that you are. 


I'm blown away by the fact that I have yet to see you have a bad day.  Most of all I am thankful that I am your mother which means that each day God allows me to be dazzled by your sparkling personality and radiant joy.  


Oh how you brighten our lives.  



I am thankful for him. 


Noah.  Your name alone is worthy of a sentence.  Your father and I never cease to be amazed by the amount of kindness and thoughtfulness that pours forth from you.  Where does it come from?  It must be that very special soul within you that will be responsible for countless miracles that I know God will perform during the course of your life.  We've already seen so many.  You have a gift for thinking about the feelings of others and you go out of your way to make others happy.  


You are also our very own little St. Anthony for you have a special way of finding things that often times blows us away.  Thank you for being you; sweet, kind, thoughtful, prayerful and also super fun!

    



I am thankful for him. 


Caleb, I love you!  I love your quirky personality and your funny laugh.  I love watching you with Dominic and am taken back by your ability to care for him.  You somehow seem to be in your element when you are taking care of him and I can already see a very special and strong bond building between the two of you.  


Caleb, you are smart, creative, fun and inquisitive.  Sometimes you challenge us with your questions but I know it's because there is depth to your thoughts and I love how you often surprise us, especially with your sense of humor. I am so very proud of you and I see in you a young man of great character who is just, honorable, strong and faithful.  





I am thankful for him. 


Joshua, my firstborn son.  You are only 10 years old yet you exude a wisdom that is far beyond your years.  You amaze me with your gift of leadership and you take your role as the oldest child seriously, understanding well that they all look up to you (even little Dominic).


You are the only one in our family that is adamant about being on time (or even early) and I am thankful that you help keep us on track. Your amazing athletic abilities are only outdone by your gift of faith and I absolutely love watching you be you.  It seems like just yesterday I was holding you as a baby in my arms and now here you are a handsome young man with one very oversized heart.
  




I am thankful for him. 


Johnny, I don't really know how you do it.  I don't know how you love me the way that you do.  On a daily basis you see my flaws and faults but you graciously choose to look past them.  You humbly lay down your life for us and continually give and give and give.  


You are my best friend.  


You make me laugh and keep life exciting and you are the answer to so many of my prayers.  I am thankful for all that you do for us - the big and small things and of course, everything in-between.

I am thankful for them.  My parents, sister,  extended family and Johnny's family. I'm thankful for my many adorable nieces and nephews.  I am thankful for my extraordinary friends and the youth that I work with.  I am thankful for all of you who daily show me what God's love looks like in the flesh. 

And I am thankful for You, oh Lord.  On this Thanksgiving day, I am thankful for the gift of my life that is so abundantly blessed.   Thank you for allowing me the grace to know you and for giving me the opportunities to serve you (even though I so often fall short).  Thank you for being patient with me, for pouring out Your mercy upon me and for daily reminding me that I am your child, your daughter.  I love you and I pray that my life in some small way might give you glory.  You have given me so much...you have given me everything. 

---------

Happy Thanksgiving!

L.
10/19/2015

Boise

So very often I feel like I have to pinch myself when it comes to living in Boise.  I really cannot believe how blessed I feel to be able to raise my children in this beautiful City of Trees, where parks are abundant, people are friendly and there are so many incredible things to see and do!

A few weeks ago we headed out for a Saturday evening adventure in order to enjoy the beginning of Fall and literally we didn't have to go far.  The beautiful Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park located in Meridian behind the Village is just 10 minutes from our house but in some ways we felt like we had embarked on a mini vacation. 


The kids LOVE the playground!  And in the summer they love splashing in the water pad.






They LOVE to fly!


 

Above the playground is a hill that is as much fun to climb as it is to roll down and as the kids did their share of rolling and climbing, Johnny and I began dreaming about all the cool youth ministry events that could take place in that Amphitheater below.  



Apparently, Dominic loves to fly too!


I cannot tell you how long I've waited for the perfect sunset so I could take a silhouette shot of our kids.  Finally, here it is.


But opps, forgot Dominic, let's try it again.  "Okay guys, on the count of three....jump!"



I vaguely remember what Gianna looks like when she is upright.  This is her new "normal". 
 

And this....


Whatzup!



My loves.  



There really is no place like home and oh, how blessed I feel to call this place home.  Thank you Boise (and actually all of Idaho) for being so amazing!