Chastity and The Way of St. James

In the summer of 2014 I walked the northern route of the Camino de Santiago, starting at the Southwestern most point of France, and finishing some thirty days later in Santiago, the burial place of the Apostle St. James. Since returning, many have asked, “So, what was it like?” and I suppose the question is simple enough, yet it has Read more…

Are Chick-Flicks Emotional Porn?

Our favorite movies make us feel things. As Hollywood legend Susan Sarandon said, “You go into a little dark room and become incredibly vulnerable. On one hand, all your perspectives can be challenged—you could feel something you couldn’t feel normally. It can encourage you to be the protagonist in your own life. On the other hand, it can completely misshape you.” I experience Read more…

Chastity Doesn’t Work for Me

I have found that chastity doesn’t work for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always tried and wanted to be a good guy. In high school I wrestled with disordered sexual desires; I didn’t want them, but they were a challenge for me. In my late teens, I heard a great chastity talk and wanted to put it more into Read more…

C.S. Lewis on How to Persevere in Chastity

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis offers time-tested counsel on how to begin—and persevere—in the virtue of chastity. First, he says we must really want to grow in this virtue. He notes how a famous Christian—when looking back at his life—realized that his prayer for chastity was really saying something like: “Oh Lord, make me chaste. But please don’t do it Read more…

Sloth and the Restless Heart

People typically think of sloth as simply “laziness,” a lack of a serious work ethic. But the Christian tradition has always seen something more here: St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, defined sloth as “sorrow at the difficulty of a spiritual good.” Consider New Year’s Resolutions—how long do they last? We start off with great enthusiasm—and eventually the mountain starts to Read more…

Reality TV vs. Real Love

Oh reality TV shows. I’m a sucker for them… along with most of my generation. A few weeks ago, I found myself doing what many girls my age do on Monday nights: watching the Bachelorette. I’ve only watched a handful of episodes, but everyone seems to be talking about it…why not check it out? Lucky for me, I tuned into Read more…

How to talk to friends about chastity . . . without losing them

I am often approached by young people who begin our conversation with the phrase, “So I have this friend…” Many people want to reach out to others but are afraid of being labeled as “judgy” or a “shamer.” We want to be nice, helpful and convicted as Catholics—and sometimes it’s confusing to figure out how all those can fit together. Read more…

The Stubborn Faith of St. Philomena

St. Philomena was only 13 years old when she defied and was killed by the most powerful man in the world, Roman Emperor Diocletian. What could be so offensive about a gentle, meek teenage princess? St. Philomena simply refused to break her vow of virginity to the Lord and marry Diocletian. Because of her stubborn faith, she was imprisoned, tortured, Read more…

What to do when chastity gets frustrating

I stepped out of the van and into the cool evening air. As my friend drove off to finish an errand before rejoining me, I glanced across the parking lot at the lit-up building. I am so not going into the dance right when it starts, I decided. After all, in my teenage mind, the “cool people” always showed up Read more…

Fasting for Love

We had only been dating for a month when the semester ended and the bleak reality struck: my boyfriend and I were going to part ways for the long months of summer. During our conversations as the break stretched before us, we discussed fasting for each other and our relationship. Each week, on a specific day, we would each offer Read more…

You are innocent, but you are not naïve.

To all my single ladies and single gentlemen out there who haven’t done much dating (or no dating at all), there are 3 terms that I want you to familiarize yourself with, and be able to distinguish between. Innocent: “the state of being free from sin; a lack of guile or corruption; purity” Purity: “the condition of being free from Read more…

When Chastity Gets Frustrating

I stepped out of the van and into the cool evening air. As my friend drove off to finish an errand before rejoining me, I glanced across the parking lot at the lit-up building. I am so not going into the dance right when it starts, I decided. After all, in my teenage mind, the “cool people” always showed up Read more…

Chastity vs. Duplicity

  I hate it when I fall into duplicity. When I say one thing and do another, I’m not acting like I want to be a trusted person, someone who is passionate about her beliefs. Several years ago, I would not pay much attention to what I put on social media. The internet was a fun, exciting tool that I Read more…

The Secret to True Love… from a Mattress??

“The marriage bed is an altar.” (Jason Evert) The patterned comforter, comfy throw pillows, and springy mattress may not look like much, but neither does a large stone table. These ordinary places are transformed through the extraordinary mysteries that take place on them. Sitting in a pew, looking up at the altar, I began to realize the depth of this Read more…

How to Be a Virtuous Date

Virtue is one of those words that sounds a bit lame and unromantic.  Dating tends to make us think of words like: passion, excitement, love and connection … Date with virtue (wha-wha-wha). Buzz kill. Growing up my dad always told me love was a decision, which always sounded too mechanical and cold to be true. But as I grew in Read more…

Fight On, My Brother

My Dear Brother in Christ, We see you. We see the fight you are engaged in. We want you to know that you do not fight in vain, nor without gratitude. In the times of knights and castles—in stories such as Braveheart—men went into battle for the protection of women and children, as well as their beliefs. Now, you are Read more…

Breaking the Addiction to Sin

Everywhere I go, I come in contact with men (and sometimes women) who have fallen into some addictive sexual sin. Most people are looking for an easy way to get rid of their “problem.” My response to them is not what they were looking for, but it does offer hope in a way that only God can offer. You see, Read more…

When Love Requires Sacrifice

If you’ve ever read the “Divergent” trilogy (spoiler alert if not!!), you’ll know that Tris—the main character—is a feisty young woman, full of spirited determination. But the thing I admire most about her is that she never compromises on her courage whilst still displaying a softer, gentler side in allowing a man to love and protect her. Reflecting on life Read more…

Why Your Standards are NOT Too High

I’ve spoken to so many girls who have been told their standards are too high. I’ve even been told that myself. But, as a friend recently reassured me, high standards attract high standards. I think it’s natural for many men to be initially intimidated by women with high standards. That doesn’t make them any less of a man. The test Read more…

5 Ways to Get Better at Practicing Chastity

Chastity is for lovers. That isn’t solely the title of my book, but a truth I believe with my whole heart. It’s a virtue for all of us—single, married, priest, nun—that creates conditions in which we can do what we were designed to do: love God and each other. Chastity doesn’t separate sexuality from the rest of the stuff that makes Read more…

What Kanye West Teaches us about Chastity

If you’ve ever heard of the Beatles, then you’ve probably heard of Paul McCartney. If you’ve ever heard of Paul McCartney, then you’ve probably heard that he just got his big break from some artist named Kanye West. Last week, there were several funny tweets that were posted by young fans who saw Kanye and Paul perform together, but they Read more…

How to Succeed at Your New Year’s Resolutions

Step 1: Stop aiming to change your actions. Instead of simply trying to change your actions, aim to change your heart. If you open your heart to God’s grace, your heart will be changed, and your actions will follow suit. Step 2: There is no step 2. Step 1 is all you need to do… over and over and over Read more…

New Year, New You: Be Realistic

I reflect on my past year during Christmas, and with Advent wrapping up now there’s no better time to do this. I don’t wait around for New Year’s to make resolutions, because us Catholics get a month head start on everyone else (Advent, people). I’m using the term “resolution” loosely, because as much as I loathe the term, I’ve realized Read more…

The Buzzword Shared By 50 Shades and the Bible

With the rise in popularity of the book turned film, 50 Shades of Grey, the word “submission” has suddenly risen from taboo, to chic for many avid fans. Ironically, a hipster-minded Catholic might venture to explain that we’ve been embracing a teaching on submission long before it was riddling the pages the pop culture phenomena… just in a very different Read more…

Women Can Change the World

I have been somewhat disturbed and frustrated lately by the lack of respect for the dignity of women. There are constant messages from society that degrade women and minimize us to objects for use and pleasure. This goes beyond “men objectifying women” and has evolved into us as women objectifying ourselves. Sometimes I feel like if we truly understood our Read more…

4 Steps to Waiting with Purpose

A few years ago, while still in middle school, I attended the wedding of two family friends, Tony and Amy. This wedding has stayed in my memory above all the others I have witnessed in my life of twenty years. While the bride was beautiful, the dress was perfect, and the groom was handsome, it was not the aesthetics of Read more…

When chastity gets messy

I never thought having premarital sex was okay. I went to Catholic school for 12 years, heard chastity talks, pledged my virginity to God and my future spouse on several occasions, and was a leader in a chastity club. I went on a chastity trip with my mom and two aunts on my 16th birthday. I am the poster child Read more…

Is chastity in college possible?

In a society that equates masculinity to number of sexual partners, I felt that I would be labeled as less of a man if I admitted that I was a virgin. Despite my anxiety, I still felt that saving sex for marriage was the right thing to do. I had learned about the virtue of chastity through the years, but Read more…

Say Yes To Sex

In its proper context, God loves sex. He could have gone with the stork or the cabbage patch, as procreative means, but God had other plans. Often times it seems that the topic of chastity can be summed up as: “no!” In fact, chastity at its core is all about “yes! By trusting Christ and following His plan, we discover Read more…

Why I don’t date men who are ‘willing’ to save sex for marriage.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” I said to a man on his couch in a Tampa apartment. He—then in his late 20′s and interested in me—nodded, and waited for me to say it. I, then in my early 20′s, breathed in before I did: “I’m saving sex for marriage.” I breathed out while he silently processed what I had said. Then Read more…

Uncovering the Lies in “50 Shades of Grey”

I want to first say that I have not read 50 Shades of Grey. But from all of the hype, media coverage and articles I have read about it, I think I get the gist…or as much gist as  I want to get… (Not to mention that I would rather read the phone book then fill my brain with the Read more…

Three Reasons to Wait Before You Flirt or Date

You’ve probably heard of the Stanford marshmallow experiment. In the ’60s and ’70s, Walter Mischel—then a psychologist at Stanford University—put one preschooler at a time at a desk on which he had placed a bell and a couple marshmallows or other treats equally tough for a kid to resist. “The researcher told each child that he had to leave, but that when he returned, she could Read more…

30 Day Modesty Challenge

Challenge time, beautiful ladies of the Lord! In our culture nowadays it seems that it is much easier for us to dress immodestly than modestly. So here’s my challenge… Dress modestly for 30 days. Instagram it with the hashtag #30daymodestychallenge . (Yes… take some selfies. No judgement) Pray about it and see what happens! Question time… Why did I decide Read more…

Emotional Chastity: Is That Even a Real Thing?

Marc Barns of Bad Catholic recently wrote a post that included his dislike of the phrase “emotional chastity.” I read the article. I read the comments. I thought about commenting. Then I decided to just write an entire post. As someone who gives talks on what one would consider the topic of emotional chastity, I couldn’t help but respond to clarify Read more…

Advice From The “Real” Love Experts (Part 2)

Conceal don’t feel. This is the mantra of the Snow Queen, Elsa, throughout every stage of life. That is, of course, until her climactic musical number in the Disney phenomena, Frozen.  At this moment, the Queen lets her listeners know that the “perfect girl is gone” as she boldly proclaims a new mantra: “no right, no wrong, no rules for Read more…

Why Instant Gratification Never Gratifies

Recently, I saw a preview at a movie theater, which shocked me. The preview was for the new ABC show, “Rising Star.” Interspersed with images of families and crowds of people together, various celebrities flashed across the screen, saying this message: “Instant Gratification: It’s what you want. And now, it’s what you’re going to get.” My jaw dropped as these Read more…

No, I will not accept this rose

ABC’s hit reality television show—The Bachelorette—is currently in its 10th season. Coupled with the original hit show, The Bachelor—which has 18 seasons of its own—this series has been on television for 28 seasons. The premise of The Bachelorette is that 25 men compete for the affections of one woman. Each week, the one woman whittles the field of men down Read more…

From Cosmopolitan to Catholicism: Hook-ups VS. Summer Love

With summer here and people already working on their tans; magazine articles are beginning to shift toward things like How to Get a Perfect Beach Body, This Years Best Waterproof Makeup and How to Look Less Terrible After Swimming in the Ocean. Among these headlines is usually “Hottest Summer Hook-ups” or something to that extent. While the idea of these Read more…

Would You Like Some Cleavage With Your Burger?

Every year in the United States, there’s this national holiday that rolls around called: Super Bowl Sunday. Half of the people at these household Super Bowl parties are there to see two NFL Football teams go at it for glory, in fierce competition. The other half of the partygoers are there to… well, see the commercials. Last year, companies spent Read more…

What’s “Perfectly Normal”?

That sex-ed book It’s Perfectly Normal is in the news again.  Some parents in St. Charles, Missouri are outraged by the book’s lifelike depictions of cartoon figures having sex, and they are seeking to have it removed from the middle-school library. District officials insist that the award-winning book is a good “resource” for middle-schoolers; and if you don’t want your Read more…

Graduation & Pure Freedom

This past weekend I saw a lot of pictures on social media of graduates. It’s thrilling beginning a new chapter in life, moving on from the old, comfortable ways we live in to new horizons. I’ve been there on the brink of new beginnings, many times, sweating in a hideous cap and gown, thinking in that moment the world was Read more…

Every Body Talks

Once upon a time I was “just friends” with a boy. But when we were together we would hold hands and were rather affectionate—as if we were dating. This is where it might have been handy if someone had brought my attention to the age-old-adage: “Actions speak louder than words.” We’ve all heard it a million times. And if you’re Read more…

How to Write a Love Letter (to your future husband)

My small hand reached across the dollar-store’s shelf. I don’t know if it was the roses or swirly script that caught my eye first. But there it was, a notebook covered in fancy, antique designs. My nine year old heart craved this book. After all, a romantic-looking notebook would be necessary for journaling about crushes, wedding dress designs, and ultimately, Read more…

How to help a friend who struggles with chastity

Being chaste in today’s world is tough. We are surrounded by a media that says it’s uncool to be a virgin, it’s weird to dress modestly, and it’s outdated to abstain from anything pleasurable. In high school, I had friends who allowed themselves to be objectified and tossed around. Once they were defeated, bruised and heartbroken, they would approach me Read more…

8 Practical Ways to Pursue Chastity while Dating

Seriously, I don’t want to write this post. I’ve been avoiding it for weeks. Just writing the wordchastity makes me feel lame. I wish we had a cooler word to convey the same concept, but any synonyms that I can think of sounds equally awkward. And every time I go to put my thoughts down on how to be chaste while Read more…

Ignore What the World Says About Virginity

I curled into a corner of the couch, pointed the remote toward the TV, and channel surfed to TV Land, where the woman in the sitcom on screen made a “shocking” discovery: Her son had never had sex. “Twenty-six years old and still a virgin,” she said. “The Elephant Man lost it before that.” The actor’s line was a crass Read more…

The Devil Wants You To Settle in Your Relationship

Besides choosing to give Christ my entire heart and life at 18 (after falling in love with Him in the Eucharist), the best decision I ever made was to wait 28 years for the man of my dreams. There were so many times I could’ve settled for a nice Catholic guy who treated me well and bored me to tears. Read more…

It’s Worth the Fight

My butt hurt. I was sitting on the most uncomfortable bleacher that bleachers have to offer, listening to a guy I didn’t know talk to 1,200 high schoolers about…sex. For a nerdy high school sophomore, this was adolescent awkward at its best. The presenter spoke all about dating, marriage, “true love”, etc. which I tended to tune out at 2:00pm Read more…

To the Girl without a Father

The most pandemic wound of our world is fatherlessness. Every little girl yearns to be pursued by her father. She desires to be wanted. She asks the questions, Do you delight in me? Am I worth fighting for? Do you want me? Do you see me? Do you value me? Am I beautiful? Am I enough? When these questions are answered through Read more…

Four Things I Learned while Battling Masturbation

It has always been interesting to me that many young men and women struggle with masturbation, but seldom will you find people talk or write about it. As a teenager, I struggled with masturbation and when I look back and reflect on the journey that led me to freedom from my sin, I realize there were several life lessons that Read more…

Searching for Emotional Chastity in all the RIGHT (Media) Places

Several weeks ago I promised you something on the FOCUS Equip blog, and I haven’t forgotten. Below is a list of media that shows love, the way it was intended to be: good, true, and beautiful. Amazingly it does exist, but like any treasure, you have to hunt for it. Because this list is incomplete, please add to it the jewels Read more…

Sports and Pornography

Remember when Babe Ruth called his shot over the center field wall or Usain Bolt glided to a world record? Two examples of amazing talent that left us cheering fanatically! (I actually wasn’t alive when Babe Ruth did that, but I have seen the footage; it is amazing!) As a former college athlete and current fan of athletics, there are Read more…

Practical Advice for a Pure Life

Who likes a challenge? Some people really enjoy a daunting dare or being told that something is impossible so they can try it anyway. Well here’s my challenge to you. I want you to go sign up for the next big golf tournament and win it. I won’t accept second or third place – you have to win. Maybe you’ve Read more…

The Trouble With Evangedating

e·van·ge·da·ting  1. Attempting to date a non-Christian of the opposite sex with the intent of converting them to Christ, sharing the Gospel. (UrbanDictionary.com) Scenario 1: Girl meets guy through a mutual friend. He’s handsome, funny, and genuine, but isn’t really interested in God, which is important to girl. Guy asks girl out. She hesitates and thinks “Should I go?” Scenario 2: Guy Read more…

All of Me: 3 Reasons Why I’m Waiting for Marriage

I’m 29 and a virgin. No, I don’t have some incurable alien disease that causes people to shutter at the sight of me. No, I don’t have the sex drive of a grandma (unless it’s my grandma who had 11 kids). And, no, I’m not Tim Tebow’s girlfriend. In my past I was a former model, volleyball player, and valedictorian Read more…

So you wanna go on a dating fast?

FOCUS missionaries do a lot of crazy things. They fundraise their salaries. They move to wherever they are told throughout the country. They talk to strangers about Jesus. But perhaps one of the most shocking things they do is give up dating for an entire year. That’s right. All first year missionaries fast from romantic relationships for one year. No dating. No Read more…

What is emotional chastity?

Maybe you’ve heard the term thrown around at your Newman Center. Maybe you read about it in your bible study. Maybe someone used it as their reason for breaking up with you. Emotional chastity, emotional purity, emotional integrity, emotional virtue, whatever people are calling it these days, has become quite a buzz topic in young adult Catholic circles. But what exactly Read more…

Can men and women really just be friends?

Raise your hand if you have had some form of a conversation based around the topic of whether or not men and women can simply be friends. Yep, I can’t even see you, but I know your hand is raised. We’ve all wondered about it, discussed it with our friends and drawn our own conclusions. Some say, “Yes, of course Read more…

The Story Behind the Photo

I made this blog because a photo of my husband and I has gone viral on the internet. I wanted to share the story behind the photo for the hundreds of thousands of people who found inspiration through this sweet moment we had. The Story Behind the Photo Moments before I was to walk down the aisle my soon to be Read more…

How to Sabotage your Love Life

During my years in the sorority, I read a lot of great resources on preparing yourself for finding your future spouse. They were very helpful in the journey to finding the vocation God had for me. There was even a recent post on the FOCUS blog about growing in emotional maturity to set you up for relationship success one day! Read more…