Resisting Happiness BLOG

Chapter 37: Never Get Discouraged

YOU DID IT! You beat resistance and made it to the end!

I hope that through this book you have come to find some areas in your life where you see resistance and the tools needed to overcome it so that you may live the life God is calling you to! Name your resistance, recognize it for what it is and move past it! God calls us to holiness and to perfection, but he also knows that we are human and with humanity comes limitations, free-will and resistance. As Matthew Kelly is famous for saying - be the 'best-version-of-yourself' each and every day - that's all God wants from us - the best we can be, the best we can do - and being the best means overcoming the resistance that holds us back.

I once knew a person who had a bad habit and when he sought guidance from one of the people he trusted and admired they reminded him that every year he gave up this bad habit for Lent. They suggested to him that he should look at every day as Lent from now on. He did this for several years - fasted from this habit every day. Once he knew he was back in control of himself he would occassionally allow himself to indulge in this habit, but kept himself from letting it once again have power over him. So as you enter into Lent tomorrow, what bad habits, what resistance, do you need to re-gain control over? Lent helps us to re-center our lives on key spiritual practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving - what practice will best help you to overcome resistance in your life?

This Lent we are taking a 'pilgrimage' to encounter Christ and be transformed by him. Pick up a PASSPORT in the gathering space of the church, or choose to go paperless and meet us online at "Lent 2017" ( > Grow & Learn > Adult Faith > 'Lent 2017' blog

Chapter 36: Blessed and Grateful

It is easy to get lost in the negatives of life - the stress, the hum-drum, the chaos...


what would happen if every day we would burst with joy for what we have, for the blessings that we have received, for the people who are part of our life? How would life look differently if we lived in the moment,not worrying about tomorrow, but focused on what and who we have with us right now!? A great practice is to spend a few minutes at the end of your day and identify the blessings of the day - the people, the expereinces, etc. The more we call ourselves to recognize those moments in hindsight the easier it will be to begin to recognize them in the moment! What are your blessings today? What are you grateful for today?

Look back over this journey - recognize those things that stuck out for you as points of resistance to the happiness that God is calling you to! What needs to change? What do you need to let go of so that you can find that joy and happiness within and allow it to burst forth as you proclaim "I am a lucky person!" Are you ready to make those changes? How perfect that Lent is right around the corner - use this Lent to start to focus on getting rid of those resistances in your life. Start to break down the barriers that hold you back -

  • fast from the things that you indulge in that prevent you from living the life you are called to,
  • pray for everything you need God to help you with,
  • give to others what you are able to give,
  • and go out and do good deeds!

This Lent Matthew Kelly and Dynamic Catholic are again offering Best Lent Ever - you can subscribe to it through email - thier focus this year? RESISTING HAPPINESS! Trust me when I say that having read this book once to decide if we should give it out over Christmas, and then reading again as I prayed and blogged with it was a great way to really take to heart some of the things I needed to hear from this book and to prepare myself for Lent - maybe spending your Lent going over it again with Dynamic Catholic would be good too!

Chapter 35: Don't Let the Critics Win

As Kelly says:


How much space to we allow those critics? How much control do we let them have? Someone will always be critical of everything you do - but that should not affect whether you do it. There are other factors you need to take into account - is this a good thing - for me - for others? is this something God is calling me to? do my trusted inner circle of people agree with me in doing this?

Critics are given lots of control in our lives and can definitely encourage us right into resistance! If I would have listened to the critics of my past I would certainly not be here today! I probably wouldn't have finished high school or college. Critics are powerful, but God is even more powerful and when we are listening to Him we can overcome any resistance! I think our attitude in recieivng critics in our life is important too, if I let the critics have power I become powerless, but if I allow the voice of the critic to just be feedback that I can assess then I can get rid of that which is not helpful, while using those things that can help me to become a better person.

Who are the critics in your life? What can you change within you to keep them as a small quiet voice in your life?

Now, consider the opposite - are you a critic for others? How do you add to their resistance of doing good things in life? How can we lift up one another rather than push each other down?

Chapter 34: When God Looks at a Resume

100% = Surrender.

What does it look like when I surrender to God and give Him 100% of myself? It's hard - and something that doesn't happen once and we're done, instead it's something that we need to do intentionally every day.

God sure didn't check my resume before employing me for various "jobs" throughout my life - one of my recent "jobs" was a few years when I started to get calls from my cousin to visit her sister in the hospital. It was then that I began walking with my cousin as she lived out her dying. She died a few days before her 50th birthday - about 15 months after I had started to visit her. Boy, what a journey this was! What does one say to a young person who knows her days are limited, who is searching to understand how her death may be a part of God's greater plan? How do you comfort a family that lost both of their parents at an early age, a sister shortly after that and now are watching yet another sibling as she dies? I prayed as I went to visit to ask God for guidance, and I prayed as I left asking God to give me the grace, dignity and faith that she had when/if that time comes for me! God equipped me for each conversation! It was His words spoken, not mine; it was His presence that comforted, not mine. I was simply the vehicle He used.

I often ask God to give me the words He needs others to hear. I ask God to guide me through my day and allow me to be who or what He needs me to be for others. On days that I surrender I feel His presence in interactions that I have with others. On the days that I rush into my day without surrendering I notice a difference, a void where I am searching for the right words rather than allowing God to speak through me. Surrendering to God is like letting him be the driver of the car and even though you may be riding "shot-gun" and navigating, He ultimately decides where to turn and when!

Pray the prayer in the book - find yourself surrendering to God more and more - and notice the blessings that come with your surrender!

Chapter 33: Made for Mission

We are made for mission! Have you ever thought that before? Do you know where God might be calling you?

Years ago I started out working as a counselor with teenagers. LOVED it and really felt strongly that this is where God was calling me. While working with these teens I also spent a lot of time kindling the fires of my faith. Eventually I felt called away from counseling and to ministry within the church. I worked for 9 years in Marshalltown where I worked with children and their families. Over time I again was feeling called away from what I was doing, and called to assist and lead adults to a deeper faith. So here I am today! My mission has never changed even though the venue through which I am called to mission has changed. I love helping people to find what Matthew Kelly calls 'the-best-version-of-yourself', but I would maybe call 'the-holiness-within.'

One of the best ways for us to follow where God is calling us is to know our gifts - know the gifts that we have been given and find the ways that we can use these gifts to best serve God. Here at OLIH we will be having a Called and Gifted Workshop on June 2 & 3 (for more details check out the Adult Faith Coming Events page and stay tuned to to the bulletin as the event gets closer).

What is your mission? Listen to this Matthew West song which reminds us also that we are here for a reason bigger than ourselves - Do Something!

Chapter 32: Let Your Light Shine

"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

Let your light shine - makes me think of how important it is that we know and understand the gifts that God has given to each of us. My light, my gifts, will look different than yours - and that is good! So often I have tried to do good things, but when it's not my area of giftedness it can be frustrating. It's when we live in our gifts that our light will shine best!

  • What good works have you done today?
  • How will you shine the light of Christ into the world today?

We are all greatly gifted and it is through the sharing of these gifts, and sharing the love of God that our light will shine brightly and that others may see God.

Not sure what your light is or what gifts you have? Mark your calendar for our upcoming Called and Gifted Workshop (June 2 & 3). We will all learn about our gifts and ways to use them to shine the light of Christ!

Chapter 31: A Weekend Away

Look around you. Who is your inner circle? Who are the people that you would trust to pull you aside and say "We are worried about you"? Who in your life would you pull aside to do the same?

We are all heading down our own path - and we may feel this is exactly where God is calling me to be. Yet, our friends and family have the privilege of witnessing our life and seeing things from a different perspective. When someone who loves us and whom we trust says "Let's talk" are you open to what they have to say? Have you witnessed someone you love who needs some re-direction?

We were not put on this earth to be alone, but to be a part of the community. Listening to others is good for us and can help us to better see God’s plan in our life. Years ago I had discerned a change in career which necessitated a move. I was single, and was going to move to a town where I knew no one. Before I said yes to the new job I walked into work and the first 3 people I saw and trusted gave me what I was looking for. When I told them I had been offered this new job each one of them was excited for me, they told me they would miss me but knew this was a good change for me. I accepted the job, and as I shared my news with other friends and family the response never changed. For me that was God validating, through my community, the change I was about to make. Our friends and loved ones keep us on track and help light our way. Sometimes we need some guidance, even when we aren't looking for it. Be open. Listen. Pray. God may be using our loved ones to send us a message.

Who do you turn to for guidance? Who would you trust to give you honest feedback? Is there someone in your life you want to sit down and help re-direct?

Chapter 30: The First Intervention

I've mentioned a few times about how I began running in the fall. How I made this work was by making a plan. I would plan out my week according to which days I was running and which days I was doing yoga. Then each day I would plan into my day the run or the yoga. Some days that meant running in the morning or running after work, but as the days got shorter it sometimes meant an extra-long lunch break during the day to go run. Whatever it took to keep to my plan I was willing to do it!

Last week I was meeting with my Spiritual Director and we were talking about how I am feeling called to spend a greater amount of time in prayer, but finding it hard to find the time. As we talked I had lots of excuses as to why this or that wouldn't work. After a while she asked me about my running - obviously she was seeing something in my resistance that I wasn't seeing yet. Hmmm... lately I take a long lunch break to go home and run in the middle of the day, knowing that means re-showering, re-dressing, re-doing the hair and make-up before returning to work. So I am okay being inconvenienced for my physical health, but not so much for my spiritual health (and additional prayer time doesn't require taking another shower or re-doing anything!!)? Made me re-think how I was treating my need for additional prayer time - moved that block of resistance out of the way! Now I have a plan for getting that additional prayer time in as well as my run! Thanks, Coach!

Do you have a plan for your spiritual health? How do you fit your spiritual practices in each day? Take some time to evaluate, make a plan and put it on your calendar! Once your plan is set get a coach or a partner who will help you to be accountable to your plan!

Chapter 29: Are You a Pilgrim or a Tourist?

"Pilgrims are different. They look for signs. If a flight gets delayed or canceled, they ask, "What is God trying to say to me?" Pilgrims are not concerned with seeing and doing everything, just the things they feel called to see and do. They are not obsessed with shopping. They are aware of the needs of others. Pilgrims go looking for meaning. Pilgrims count their blessings." (Page 148)

This Lent you are being called to be a pilgrim. Here at OLIH we have created "PASSPORTS" for you to travel through Lent this year asking yourself "What is God trying to say to me?" So take time now to begin asking yourself what is God calling me to this year? Am I called to spend more time in prayer? Do I feel God calling me to greater fasting or sacrifice? Is God tapping me on the shoulder calling me to service or greater giving of myself or material items?

This life journey is not an easy one. We need to approach it as a pilgrim rather than a tourist; looking for where God is at and where He is directing us. To find out more about what we have planned for Lent this year check out the Adult Faith section of our website and may you find ways to encounter Jesus during this upcoming season of Lent that will lead you to be transformed in many ways!

Chapter 28: The Light is On

"Be gentle with yourself consists of realizing your faults, failings, and weaknesses, and dealing with them appropriately. God doesn't want us to beat ourselves up. He wants us to press on and try again. In the words of Saint Francis de Sales, "Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about redeeming them - every day begin anew." (Page 145)

When is the last time you went to reconciliation? Reconciliation is a wonderful opportunity to "clean the vehicle" of our heart. I love his description of cleaning the car and how we lose that sensitivity to keeping it clean over time. Reconciliation is all about verbalizing what we want to change within ourselves. It's amazing how empowering it is to say aloud to another person that we were wrong and we want to change and knowing that person - the priest - will hear us without judgement and coach us. We all need to take the time to re-center our hearts to God, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation gives us that chance.

Father Steve is in the Reconciliation room every Saturday at 4:00pm. During Lent there will be a communal reconciliation service on Sunday, March 26 at 3:00pm - all are welcome. Father Steve will have other times available during Lent - watch the bulletin or call and schedule a time with him. Would you rather not go to Father Steve for some reason? Father Larry offers reconciliation at St Luke's on Saturday mornings from 9am to 10am - what a neat way to start your weekend, individually or with your family!

Chapter 27: The Secret to Excellence

There are two great points I wish to spend some time with today:

First, Kelly talks about how his father always told him to "listen to your coach". Who is your coach in your spiritual life? Do you have somoene who helps you to discern choices or help you find the right direction? I'm currently taking classes to become a "Spiritual Director" someone who will listen and help my directee to find the holy within them. There are several Spiritual Directors in our parish and in the greater Des Moines area. Consider spending the time and money to work with a Spritiual Director who can help you to find the holy in your day to day. I know that come summer I will be looking for someone to commit to spending one hour a month with me for a year as part of my training - if you're interested in sharing your story and finding the holy within it, send me a message -

"If you want to be part of an excellent parish, stop waiting for someone else to make it one." (Page 136)

Second, for our parish to be excellent we need everyone to participate in making it excellent! What part are you playing? Do you see areas you think are lacking in our ministry to the parish community? Where might God be calling you?

Chapter 26: You Cannot Succeed at Anything Without...


UGH! You just knew that word was coming, didn't you? Self-discipline is HARD WORK! But I must say the rewards are grand! I know that the times I have been self-disciplined I have been greatly rewarded - whether it's been in my prayer life, getting into a good exercise or eating routine, or even just breaking away from watching TV or playing games on my phone. I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER - no matter which area of my life I was being more self-disciplined in I noticed the rewards in body, mind and spirit! Self-discipline affects all areas of life!

The action step Kelly puts at the end of this chapter is great - "say no to yourself at least once every day." Can you do that? Can you deny yourself instant pleasure of that chocolate bar, or sitting down to watch TV or jumping into your pajamas with a good book as soon as you get home? Can you delay gratification at least once a day? Could this be a good Lenten practice this year?

Chapter 25: Breaking the Cycle

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

This first stanza of the Serenity Prayer is so very powerful. This prayer is often used by addicts to help them with the 12 steps. I personally love this prayer as it helps me to put life into perspective most days. It keeps me from blaming myself for things I cannot control and challenges me to step up and change the things that I can.

Kelly talks about fasting in this chapter - fasting is an awesome spiritual practice that is not often talked about. I too was raised Catholic and my family always "gave up" things for lent but the actual understanding of fasting is not something discussed. So this year I hope to read a book that I bought over 2 years ago that is all about the spirituality of fasting. I am fascinated by the concept and want to delve deeper into this important practice. That's my Lenten book for this year. Pray for me!

For those now aware - the above stanza is not the entire Serenity Prayer. I've included the rest of the prayer below:

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


Chapter 24: Hungry

As I sit at my computer I am thinking of the food I have eaten so far today - was I really hungry? or do I eat to fill other needs?

We all have something in our life that is a vice that keeps us from searching deeper into our lives to find greater meaning. I'm reading the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis with a group and in the first chapter it's revealed that one way the "devil" gets us to not focus on what's important is by diverting our attention with hunger or food. What a thought! As Lent continues to come closer it's a good time to revisit the idea of fasting and instilling within us self-discipline!

Food may or may not be your vice, years ago I decided for Lent I would give up "fun" reading - and only allowed myself to read Scripture or books connected to Catholic teaching. That proved to be a great way to stop filling my mind with murder mysteries and instead to fill my mind with good things. I did this for a couple of years until I realized that I had naturally changed my reading habits and my "fun" reading now was Scripture and Catholic teaching! It's still rare to see me with much else in my hand. I have a few good "fun" reads at home - but no murder mysteries waiting in that stack!

This year food is my vice, so back to the basics for me - how about you? What do you need to fast from this year?

Chapter 23: Attempted Murder

Truth - what is truth?

Sometimes it is hard to decipher what is true and what is not in our world today. Some friends of mine and I were talking about this the other day - we are inundated with information in our world today and it's not easy to wade through that flood of information and sift it carefully to find pieces of the truth - plus who has the time and the patience? This leads to confusion and anger, bitterness and hurtful words. Basically, it leads to anything but happiness!

Where do you go to find truth? Do you search the internet? Facebook? 24 hour news stations? Conversations with like-minded friends? Where do you go for truth?

Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Every day take time to shut off the TV, turn off your phone and log out of social media and then open the Bible and spend time with the Word of God - that is where you will find the truth!

Chapter 22: How Many Sundays Left?

Hmmmm… not being a great mathematician I think I have this right. I have about 1, 872 Sundays left. What about you? (I know you went and figured it out too!) How will we use those Sundays?

How do you spend your Sunday now? Do you go to Mass and thank God for all that you have had over the last week? Do you spend time with loved ones? Or is your Sunday spent in frenzy trying to get ready for the week ahead? It has never ceased to amaze me how less frenzied my life feels when I take time for God every day, but especially when I set aside a majority of my Sunday to thank Him, praise Him and enjoy the life He has given to me!

How will you spend your next Sunday??

Chapter 21: The Power of Habits

So, did you try the Mass journal this weekend? What did you think? I know some people who do this every week and find it to be a great way of engaging in the Mass! It's a habit now and just a part of what they do. New habits take time to create - but once you've passed a certain point, there is lots less resistance.

How about you - what habits do you have well established in your life? I started running in the fall - loved it, but boy in the winter months with the cold and ice I have easily fallen away from it. I try to get out when the weather allows, but it's been hard to do it regularly. I know I started a good habit as I really want to get out there when I can. What about you - have you tried to start some new habits? How are you doing?

With Lent coming it's a good time to look at those bad habits we have or the good habits we want to do better at - what can you commit to this Lent to help you grow in a good habit or decrease a not-so-good one?

Chapter 20: Learning to Listen

There are a lot of good points in this chapter! I want to take a moment to reflect on just three of them:

  1. LISTEN - I am currently going through a program and studying to be a Spiritual Director. The whole first YEAR of my program is focused on LISTENING! In one of my books they compared a conversation to 2 monologues - people aren't really listening to one another, instead conversations are made up of one person talking and the other thinking about what they want to say. How do we listen to one another? How do we stay focused on what the other person is telling us? If we don't know how to listen to one another, how will we ever learn to listen to God?
  2. Active versus Passive - LOVE that he pointed out the difference of passively coming to Mass and waiting for someone else, or something outside of me to happen to engage me rather than walking in with an action plan of finding the one thing that touches my heart, mind or soul. We need to be active and engaged in the Mass to find that one thing. I can't tell you how many times I have left Mass with a word or phrase that has touched my heart and led to me to learning more or digging deeper into life. Actively searching for what you are learning is a great way to enter into Mass!
  3. WRITE THINGS DOWN! I am with him on this point! I used to make clients write out their own goals - when you write it you commit it to memeory and commit it to your heart! Take a piece of paper and a pencil in to Mass this Sunday, pull it out during the homily and jot yourself some notes to help you remember as you leave what you have gained so that you can share it with others!

"God, show me one way in this Mass I can become a-better-version-of-myself (grow in holiness) this week." (page 105)

To help you to actively engage in the Mass this weekend and to write down what you learn I have placed a basket of pens and a basket of "journal pages" on the table in the middle of the gathering space. Stop and pick up a pen and page - write down what you learn and take it with you!

Chapter 19: Bored?

I love the question that Kelly's dad would pose to them on Sunday morning:

"You don't have to go to Mass if you can tell me the one thing that you are going to do while I am at church with all your brothers that is more important than going to church and thanking God for another week of life." (page 99)

I can't think of anything better than going to Mass to say THANK YOU, GOD! Thank you for my life, thank you for the good things I have in my life, thank you for the people in my life, thank you for everything!

One way that I connect with the Sunday Mass is to follow along. I'm a visual person, so picking up the book and following along helps me to stay focused on what is happening and helps me to let it settle into my mind and heart. It's easy to sit in the pew and drift off to another place, then later say "that was boring", or "I got nothing out of Mass", but in reality what did we put into it to start with?

Reading the Sunday readings before you arrive can help. Check out the USCCB website - click on the date and the readings are there. By reading the readings ahead of time my mind and heart are more open to them and ready to hear what Father or the Deacon have to say in the homily.

Here are three wonderful Catholic speakers - check out their videos that can help you to enter into the beauty of the Mass!

Mark Hart

Fr Mike Schmitz

Chris Stefanick

Chapter 18: Tuesday Nights

For the 15 months that I was working in Marshalltown I went to daily Mass every morning. Since I have come here I try to make at least once a week - for some reason I am struggling with this. So this year I am making it my Lenten committment to to Mass daily (it's how I started the habit before) - and pray that I get over whatever resistance is there for me!

One time in Marshalltown when I was at daily Mass I had a wonderful expereince that pushed me in my faith and that I will never forget. I cannot tell you what the gospel reading was, but as I listened I remember looking at our retired priest as he proclaimed it and thinking how much I wanted to hear his words of wisdom on this particular teaching that touched me heart... BUT his homily consisted of one question... one simple question that basically challenged me (well, all of us) to prayerfully consider what we would say? I remember sitting there stunned by him turning that back onto me and not giving me the answer - which takes us to surrender. Surrender to God and allow yourself to follow Him!

In a parish the size of OLIH it's not always easy to find those beautiful intimate moments in church. Daily Mass is beautiful! If you haven't come to a daily Mass give it a try - 8:30am Monday through Friday (Thursday is a Word and Communion service, not Mass). I know that for many this can be hard due to work schedules, but can you arrange just once a week to go to work late? Can you come to daily Mass on the days that you are off work?