Presence Matters

I have a 4-year-old at home who is suffering from what I call “accompaniment syndrome”. It may be a form of separation anxiety, or maybe he’s just a momma’s boy but it sure can be trying at times. “Mommy, can you come to watch TV with me?” “Mommy, can you stay in the bathroom until I’m done?” “Mommy, can you sit next to me while I eat?” “Mommy, can you play with me?” All endearing requests if he were the only aspect of my world, but come on! I have 3 other kids and a husband. I cannot be joined at the hip with you all day long!

As I tend to do when I have two or three seconds of silence to reflect, I am able to relate it to my spiritual life. In today’s first reading, Paul was in Corinth, where he met Aquila and his wife Priscilla. It says that he “stayed with them and worked”. He simply accompanied them with his presence. Surely he comforted them, ministered to them and offered them friendship. Isn’t this essentially what my son is asking me to do?

In the Gospel, Jesus is preparing His followers for His Ascension into heaven. He tells them “A little while and you will no longer see me.” He is preparing them for when He will no longer physically accompany them. And they are distraught. In the same way that my 4-year-old whines and cries almost every morning when I have to leave for work, the disciples were mourning Jesus’ absence.  Our presence matters.

While I know that God is always present to me, I often question how present I am to Him. My prayer life is sorely lacking, my patience is gravely thin, and I often don’t even think about my first and one true Love. Even when I don’t make time to pray, even when I have no idea what the readings at Mass were, I can still be present to my God by inviting Him into the everyday moments. Small utterances throughout the day, a plea for help, a complaint, a word of praise, a thank you, maybe even a shared joke or two. What matters is our presence to each other, Him to me and me to Him.

Lord, help me to truly be present to others today and to be present to You as well. Help me to realize that Your presence abiding in me matters to others, and together we can make a difference. Our presence matters…

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Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. Attending Catholic schools her whole life, she was an avid sportswoman, a (mostly) straight A student and a totally type A sister. She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances and finding unique ways to love. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. Her favorite things to do are finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby, and grocery shopping with a latte in her hand. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for the past 18 years.


Life’s Experiences Teach Us To Live

As I worked on processing bulletins this past week, I noticed how many churches had chosen one of our covers illustrating a trifecta of celebrations. World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Good Shepherd Sunday and Mother’s day all fell on the same day this year (not to mention the 4th Sunday of Easter). Since the Good Shepherd is one of my favorite images of our Lord, vocations were once a big part of my life and I am now a mother to four little ones, I began to ponder…

In less than 25 years, I have been able to live three different vocations. Leaving home at the tender age of 15, I entered a boarding school out East to discern my vocation. Professing promises of a consecrated lay person at age 17, I was sent to Mexico soon after and lived the life of a student and missionary for three and a half years. Once I realized that God was not calling me to this life on a permanent basis I returned home. For 11 years, I lived as a single woman, working, traveling, attending retreats, Bible studies and social events, and spending lots of time with my nieces and nephews. At age 31 I finally met the love of my life after many failed attempts and foolish choices. We were married at age 32 and now have 4 small boys.

So before hitting 40, I have been able to live three different vocations. I don’t think many people can say that. It forces me to ask myself: “What does God want me to do with these experiences? How can I better give of myself to others because of the life I have lived?” During my time as a missionary, I learned how to speak fluent Spanish, developed a consistent prayer life and ministered to youth. During my single years, I learned to accept, understand and befriend people from many different countries and backgrounds. As a wife and mother I have learned to love, be patient, aid in healing and educate.

So what am I to do with all of these life lessons other than living out my daily life? Perhaps living out my daily life is precisely the answer, but doing it with more perfection. I have no illusions of being able to cure a crippled man, nor do I wish to be revered as a god as Paul was in today’ reading, but I can observe the commandments and love like Jesus as He asks us to in today’s Gospel. This love can then flow into everything I do and say and think. I can continue to pray and minister, accept and befriend, love and help heal.

Lord, help us all to be beacons of your love today and allow us to recognize You in others as well. Amen.

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Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. Attending Catholic schools her whole life, she was an avid sportswoman, a (mostly) straight A student and a totally type A sister. She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances and finding unique ways to love. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. Her favorite things to do are finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby, and grocery shopping with a latte in her hand. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for the past 18 years.


Just Like the First Apostles

Every time I read today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles, it fills me with contentment and peace. The early Christians were a united front, a tight team, and they looked after one another. There is no allusion to greed or aspiration to lofty positions. They were filled with the Holy Spirit (“With great power”), sought to bring the Good News to as many people as possible (“bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus”) and were rewarded for their efforts (“great favor was accorded them all”).  The fact that there was “no needy person among them” reminds me of the original bliss of the Garden of Eden. Perhaps these moments in history were in fact another foreshadowing of heaven’s eternal joy.

Yet, if you continue reading on, you realize all too soon that the first Apostles’ lives were far from bliss. Persecutions, hardships, extensive travel in harsh circumstances, misunderstandings and eventual martyrdom awaited them. And this is why the Bible’s contents continue to be so relevant to us today, precisely because of its ups and downs.

I have four young boys and watch the ebb and flow of life unfold before my eyes every single day. My toddler literally smothers the baby with hugs and kisses, grabs a toy and crawls on the floor, trying to get the baby to follow him around the room, giggling and shrieking with joy the whole time. At other moments, usually, when he’s tired (or has a dirty diaper) he purposely runs over the baby’s fingers with a toy or wants to shove him out of my lap so I will hold him instead.

My 6 and 4-year-olds are best friends. They play together, watch cartoons together, invent adventures together, mastermind Lego creations together and chat it up for hours on end. My 4-year-old despises school because it takes his big brother away from him for 8 hours. Yet the two amigos also fight like cats and dogs, argue about which program they’re going to watch, push each other around, chase each other around the house, tease each other to the point of tears and hurt each other. They can’t live with each other and can’t live without each other.

These real-life scenarios reflect in a small way what we all experience. Ups and downs. Good Friday moments and Easter moments. Times of abundance and times of drought. The good news is that we know what awaits us. Although we may not know if the next minute or the next hour will bring us joy or sadness, we do know what awaits us at the end of our journey. We are Easter people, believers in the Resurrection! May this season be one of joy for you, knowing that “everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (Jn 3:15)

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Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. Attending Catholic schools her whole life, she was an avid sportswoman, a (mostly) straight A student and a totally type A sister. She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances and finding unique ways to love. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. Her favorite things to do are finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby, and grocery shopping with a latte in her hand. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for the past 18 years.


Joyful Anticipation

Tonight is the greatest night of the whole year. The chains of sin and death are broken, the grave is opened. That dark midnight hour is filled with the light of this wonderful reality, Christ is Risen!

But we’re not there yet. The hour has not yet come. We still have this day, these next few hours to muddle through. I remember as a child being so restless on Holy Saturday. I felt so empty. Jesus was gone, nowhere to be found in any church. He was dead and I felt so lost. I couldn’t go visit Him at the adoration chapel. Even talking to Him in prayer felt like a futile exercise, like He couldn’t hear me anyways. Sure, we tried to fill the hours by coloring hard boiled eggs, cooking or getting the house ready for Easter, but it was such a hard day.

Knowing myself as I do now, I realize I am an impatient sort, and likely was even as a child. The most important day of the year was drawing nigh and I didn’t want to wait for it. I’m sure the promise of candy upon the morn didn’t help anything either.

It seems like we’re always waiting for something, doesn’t it? Waiting for the weekend to get here, for our relationship with our family members to get better, for that summer vacation we’ve been planning, to feel better after surgery or an illness, for the loan to go through, or the house to sell. And although we should give our all at being present in the present, living fully, to the best of our ability, we are actually SUPPOSED to be waiting, aren’t we? Our lives should be filled with joyful anticipation, expectant waiting of that glorious day, when we will, at last, be in Christ’s presence forever.

So as these last few hours pass before the celebration of Easter, let us remember that life truly is a time of waiting, but that we can be joyful in the waiting, knowing that our own resurrection awaits us.

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Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. Attending Catholic schools her whole life, she was an avid sportswoman, a (mostly) straight A student and a totally type A sister. She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances and finding unique ways to love. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. Her favorite things to do are finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby, and grocery shopping with a latte in her hand. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for the past 18 years.


Return To Me With All Your Heart

Throughout these three weeks and three days of Lent, a certain Psalm Response has been running through my head. It has become the theme of my Lenten journey. “Return to Me with all your heart, the source of grace and mercy, come seek the tender faithfulness of God.” The minor key creates a somber melody that wafts in and out of my consciousness most days, grounding me, reminding me, centering me.

What does it truly mean for me, in my life to return to God? What does it mean to return to Him with my whole heart? How is He the source of grace? And of mercy? Are my eyes fully opened to His faithfulness? Do I realize how tender his faithfulness truly is?

In a similar vein, today’s First Reading invites us “Come, let us return to the Lord…Let us know, let us strive to know the Lord.” During the stretch of time between my missionary days and my present state as wife and mother, I feel like my spiritual life was so much deeper. I prayed often, attended a young adult group, went on periodic retreats and was actually able to focus during Mass. My relationship with God was at the forefront of my personal life and my work life. Perhaps I held on to Him so tightly because I was literally begging Him to send me a husband. Now that that dream and many more have been fulfilled, my mind is occupied with a multitude of other things and I often fail to reach out to my Creator and first Love.

I have a great need this Lent to return to God, to turn my heart to Him often during the day, to speak to Him as a friend. I see so much in myself that I want to change… so many sarcastic comments that shouldn’t escape my lips, so many unkind thoughts that should never enter my mind, so much frustration that shouldn’t fester. My patience level with my kids is at about 10% and the times my voice contains a high or negative tone are much too frequent. I want to be a good example, the light of Christ to others, yet I fail again and again.

One thing I have learned is that virtue is much more easily attained by simply zipping my lips. The more I am silent, the less I sin. I don’t always have to have an opinion or be funny. I don’t always have to defend myself and I’m not always right. I don’t have to talk to others about every little thing that bothers me about someone else. I don’t have to be so dramatic and constantly seek attention or praise.

Lord, grant me the humility of the tax collector in today’s Gospel who had the courage to beseech you: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” With your grace and mercy change is possible. Allow me to see Your tender faithfulness. Help me to return to you with all my heart.

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Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. Attending Catholic schools her whole life, she was an avid sportswoman, a (mostly) straight A student and a totally type A sister. She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances and finding unique ways to love. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. Her favorite things to do are finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby, and grocery shopping with a latte in her hand. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for the past 18 years.


Return to Me

Today’s reading from Jeremiah reminded me of my high school days.  Youth group member, Steubenville retreat attendee, daily-Mass-going 14-year-old me thought she was holier than thou. I prided myself in following the rules, getting good grades and being a teacher’s pet. Even amidst the hormone shifts of teenage-hood I had permitted not a single curse word to escape my lips. In fact, when someone in the locker next to me dared to swear, I would be so bold as to speak up “please don’t use those words”, and then I would turn on my heels and walk away. I had few friends and of course not a single classmate approached this goodie-two-shoes with offers of “a good time.” I felt much like Jeremiah did being verbally attacked and snickered at. Indeed, why should good be repaid with evil?

As I left that atmosphere to dedicate a portion of my teen and young adult years to the missions, I learned that my behavior had more to do with my own insecurity than being truly holy. I clung to religion as my stronghold, followed the rules because of their consistency and familiarity. I remember thinking in those days that I had learned it all regarding my faith. I had already received the Sacraments, was familiar with a good portion of the Bible, had the Mass and many of the familiar hymns memorized… I was going to be SO BORED for the rest of my life with nothing new to learn. Boy was I wrong! I was missing one of the most important elements.

The Psalm declares steadfast trust in the Lord stating firmly: “You are my God” and speaks of His unfailing love. Did snappy requests in front of a locker speak of unfailing love? Not likely. Did gaining favor with every adult figure speaking of steadfast trust? Probably not. Did clinging to rules show God that He was mine? Nope. Like the mother of James and John in the Gospel, I was searching for greatness, albeit holy greatness, when I should have been seeking servitude. I love that quote from St. Francis that says “Preach the Gospel always, when necessary, use words” because it is a lesson that I still have not learned. I long for my relationship with God to be my all, my one and only, the reason to awaken each morning, what eeks from my very being day after day. Yet I have so far to go.

I am so grateful for this season of Lent that affords us such a great opportunity to return to God with our whole hearts. Perhaps this year I will take one step forward in my relationship with my God, my Creator, my Love, my All. “Into your hands, I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.” (Psalm 31:5)

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Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. Attending Catholic schools her whole life, she was an avid sportswoman, a (mostly) straight A student and a totally type A sister. She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances and finding unique ways to love. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. Her favorite things to do are finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby, and grocery shopping with a latte in her hand. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for the past 18 years.


The Lord is my Shepherd

I once recited today’s Psalm (23) for a class assignment in high school. Not only is it one of the most well-known Psalms, thus making it easier to memorize, but it is also one of the most moving and poetic. It sums up who God is for me. He is my guide, my tranquility, my beauty, my banquet, and my ultimate goal. I want to dwell in his house!  May these words be balm to your soul:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

In those moments when I wonder how I am going to pay my mortgage, I remember “I shall not want.”

In those moments when I worry if I can take one more sleepless night, “he gives me repose.”

In those moments when I have no idea what to do next, “he leads me.”

In those moments when I don’t know if I can take one more toddler temper tantrum, “he refreshes my soul.”

In those moments when I am disturbed by a frightful thought he is “at my side.”

In those moments when the refrigerator is bare he “spread[s] the table before me.”

In those moments when I thirst for quiet “my cup overflows.”

In those moments when negativity abounds all around me “goodness and kindness follow me.”

And in those moments when I long for heaven I know I will soon “dwell in the house of the Lord.”


Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. Attending Catholic schools her whole life, she was an avid sportswoman, a (mostly) straight A student and a totally type A sister. She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances and finding unique ways to love. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. Her favorite things to do are finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby, and grocery shopping with a latte in her hand. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for the past 18 years.


Living and Effective

As I write, I am in the midst of difficulties on both sides of the family. Granted, I come from a large family and my husband’s family has lived through many trials, but sometimes I want to throw up my hands and say “Why can’t we just all get along?!” And then I begin my rant, “Why does so and so have to be that way? Why does he/she have to do that?!…”

When my soul is finally tranquil enough to refocus, I try to consider what their world might be like. What are they living through at this moment? What is the state of their mind and heart? Who has hurt them and how deeply? Am I judging them? Do I consider myself holier than thou?

And once again I realize that the only solace for suffering humanity is our loving God and His holy Word. Here is today’s First Reading:

“The word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
No creature is concealed from him,
but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him
to whom we must render an account.

Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”

Lord Jesus, YOU are what I need. You penetrate the soul and the spirit. You discern the thoughts of the heart. All that I am is openly exposed to you. You are able to sympathize with all of my predicaments. You have also been tested. So I approach you and beg for your mercy, grace and help.


Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. Attending Catholic schools her whole life, she was an avid sportswoman, a (mostly) straight A student and a totally type A sister. She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances and finding unique ways to love. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. Her favorite things to do are finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby, and grocery shopping with a latte in her hand. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for the past 18 years.


Sanctity Of Marriage, Gift Of Vocations

Several years ago, I had the privilege being the Director of Family Life in a Diocese down south. The role primarily entailed helping engaged couples prepare for marriage and screening married couples who were experiencing infertility and wished to adopt a child. The fact of the matter was I had never been married myself, nor had I been a parent. I had observed my parents’ marriage and how they raised us, as well as my siblings, but any amount of expertise I had on the subject did not come from personal experience. I had yet to find the love of my life and start my family. I learned about communication, finances, natural family planning, and character differences right along with the couples. As I studied to give talks, I gained valuable knowledge and a deeper understanding of the seriousness of this commitment and this covenant with God and another.

Jesus speaks of this seriousness with the Pharisees in today’s Gospel: “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.” What a profound and powerful thing for two people of opposite genders, differing psyches, varying ideas and fluctuating hormones to be joined as one! Married couples are called to be of one mind and one body, to be a united team in family life, each standing faithfully by the other.

Because of the profound beauty and joy this sacrament brings, to willfully renounce it is a great sacrifice indeed. Those who follow the call to the priesthood, religious life or celibate singlehood are not only giving up sexual pleasure, but also the security and comfort of steady companionship and the gift of children. Yet they in turn are a great gift to us, the backbone of the Church, so to speak, who uphold us with their prayers, sacrifices, good council and participation in the Mass.

So these readings are a great reminder to me of both the sanctity of my own marriage and the gift of vocations, as well as a reminder to keep both married couples and priests and religious in prayer, that we may all faithfully follow our call in life so as to reach our heavenly goal.


Tami Urcia is wife and mother to her small army of boys. She works full time at Diocesan and is a freelance translator and blogger (BlessedIsshe.net and CatholicMom.com) She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances, and finding unique ways to love. Tami spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree. Her favorite things to do are spending time outside with the kiddos, quiet conversation with the hubby, and an occasional break from real life by getting a pedicure or a haircut. You can find out more about her here.


In The Hands Of The Potter

Today’s First Reading from Jeremiah depicts the image of being formed at the hands of the potter. God does the same to us. He forms us and shapes us and molds us until we become a beautiful vessel. I feel like God is doing this to me right now, amid hardship and tears. I am in my third trimester with my fourth child, while working full time and trying to give my other three the love and attention they need and desire. How many times must I explain that it hurts mommy when they jump on my belly or that I can’t get up every five seconds to find their lost toy because my feet are swollen and I feel like a beached whale? They want to be held. They want me to play with them. Yet all I can muster is surviving for an hour after work until they go to bed.

But what would happen if I did get up? What would happen if I let them cuddle even though it was uncomfortable? Would it kill me? Or would it make me a better person and a better mom? It is in these moments that I feel the Potter gently molding and shaping me, calling me out of my laziness and selfishness to continue giving as I ought.

To add to the madness of the daily grind, we are in the midst of a remodel to add an additional room upstairs for the baby. Tearing out and reconstructing closets, putting in doorways, relocating light switches and outlets, putting in HVAC vents… We are creating a space for our little one, working at the potter’s wheel so to speak. We can either allow ourselves to be swallowed up in the stress of the project or we can lovingly mold this corner of our house. And the reality of the work itself molds us as we mold it. It pushes the limits of our exhaustion, gives us the opportunity to patiently labor amid “little helpers”, and makes us realize that things may not go according to our plans and it may not be completed before the wee one’s arrival.

But in the end, sometimes that pesky free will gets in the way. It is up to us whether we allow ourselves to be transformed and sanctified with these trials or fall into frustration and despair. Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel “Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous…” Which lot will we fall into? Will we allow the Potter to transform us in order to be counted among the righteous? Or will we die in the wickedness of our sin? May we all encounter the humility to cry out with sincerity of heart “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord, his God.” (Psalm)


Tami Urcia is wife and mother to her small army of boys. She works full time at Diocesan and is a freelance translator and blogger (BlessedIsshe.net and CatholicMom.com) She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances, and finding unique ways to love. Tami spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree. Her favorite things to do are spending time outside with the kiddos, quiet conversation with the hubby, and an occasional break from real life by getting a pedicure or a haircut. You can find out more about her here.


The Good Shepherd

“Shepherd your people with your staff…” As I read these initial words of today’s first reading I recall one of my favorite images of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. I love looking at the sheep all around Him, each with their own attitude and personality. A newborn lamb is perched precariously on His shoulders, so proud of the fact that he was the one chosen to be held by the Lord. Another walks in front of Jesus, head held high as if leading the way. Another walks meekly alongside Him, just content to be close to Him. Another looks up at Him trying to gauge what He’s thinking. Another looks to the side, constantly aware of his surroundings in his attempt to protect Jesus. Yet another trails behind with his nose to the ground, just following the crowd, apparently not even realizing he is in the presence of the Master.

As I amuse myself musing over the sheep, I realize that we, His flock, are not much different. Some of us are proud, others confident, others meek, others curious, others protective, and others clueless.  We are all so different, yet we are all so loved.

As the middle child of a large Catholic family, I often sought individualized attention from my parents, wanting to be the “special” one. I worked hard to get good grades in order to earn their approval. I helped my dad with projects around the house to earn his praise. I wanted to be good at everything I did. Perhaps I longed to be that baby lamb held on the Lord’s shoulders, thinking this was the best place to be, the place for the privileged or the “especially loved”.

I’m pretty sure we all long to be loved this way, many Gospel stories sure seem to confirm it, but the good news is that in Christ, we all can! In fact, Jesus speaks to this in today’s Gospel.

“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.” (Matthew 12: 48-49)

He confirms that not only one person has the privilege of that close mother-son relationship, nor do only a handful enjoy the tight-knit friendship of brotherhood.  As long as we are doing His will, we can all have that closeness, that intimacy. In God, each of us is truly and individually treasured and loved in the way our heart desires. So maybe I am that special baby lamb after all, and so are you!


Tami Urcia is wife and mother to her small army of boys. She works full time at Diocesan and is a freelance translator and blogger (BlessedIsshe.net and CatholicMom.com) She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances, and finding unique ways to love. Tami spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree. Her favorite things to do are spending time outside with the kiddos, quiet conversation with the hubby, and an occasional break from real life by getting a pedicure or a haircut. You can find out more about her here.


May We Thrive On The Cross

As I type, a heatwave has descended upon Western Michigan and surely much of the country. Mid-July is not known for the most pleasant of weather, especially for one who sports a 30–week pregnant belly. It reminds me of the years I lived in Kentucky, when I couldn’t even touch my steering wheel without burning my hand and instead of being greeted by cool early morning air as I headed to work, I breathed in sweltering temps already in the mid 80’s. Yet even this suffering pales in comparison to the heat spoken about in today’s Gospel. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” Oh, the fires of Gehenna! How hot they must be! It makes me cringe just thinking about it.

Yet Jesus does not speak this way in order to instill fear in us, but rather the plain truth, a pointed reality. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, in other words, everything we do bears consequences. Even so, Jesus goes on to reassure us of His deep and infinite love: “All the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Today we remember the life and legacy of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. I have always been drawn to her, since my niece bears her name and because of her courage and early death. Even during my time in “The Bible Belt” I was still able to find like-minded Catholics to befriend and share my faith with, but she was surrounded by pagan Mohawks who treated her as a slave upon her conversion. She escaped to a Christian village on foot, a 200-mile journey, to continue her journey of faith. A woman of prayer and penance, she vowed to remain a virgin and died at the tender age of 24.

It causes me to reflect upon the things I have suffered that now seem so small. I recently had to make a trip to the hospital due to pregnancy related issues. And although all turned out well, I still bear the “battle scars” of large yellow and purple bruises on my hand and arms after 5 attempts to insert an IV. Did I pay this price as lovingly as she would have? Did I acknowledge my Lord before the healthcare professionals through my words and attitude even while I “suffered”?

Today’s reflection on franciscanmedia.org states, “We like to think that our proposed holiness is thwarted by our situation. If only we could have more solitude, less opposition, better health. Kateri Tekakwitha repeats the example of the saints: Holiness thrives on the cross, anywhere.”

So may we thrive on the cross no matter where we find ourselves, whether it be in extreme heat, on a hospital bed, or in a hostile environment, knowing that in the end, the Lord will acknowledge us before His heavenly Father.


Tami Urcia is wife and mother to her small army of boys. She works full time at Diocesan and is a freelance translator and blogger (BlessedIsshe.net and CatholicMom.com) She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances, and finding unique ways to love. Tami spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree. Her favorite things to do are spending time outside with the kiddos, quiet conversation with the hubby, and an occasional break from real life by getting a pedicure or a haircut. You can find out more about her here.