“Life After The Wedding”

by Deacon Derrick and Mistianna Barnes

Over the last several months, if not years, you have been focused entirely on planning your special day. Catering decisions, wedding party selections, venue choices, and decisions about flowers, bridesmaids dresses, and tuxedoes have finally all been made. Hopefully, the Bride even got to say “yes” to her perfect dress. So, there literally has been no detail too small that you and the love of your life have not anguished over and spent countless hours reviewing, and tailoring to make them absolutely, wedding fabulous!

Mistianna:​   It seems a lot of newlyweds, like Derrick and I were years ago, get really caught up in the excitement of an elaborate proposal, the fabulous wedding, and a hot, happening honeymoon in the fantasy suite. The problem with that is when we do this, get so “wedding crazy” as my Daddy calls it, we fail to nurture the reality of what truly sustains our relationship with one another and instead focus all of our time and energy on our Wedding day, and not, on growing our relationship, or on learning what really makes each other tick, or understanding the expectations we each have for the other in this lifetime commitment we’re about to make through the Sacrament of Marriage. Unfortunately, this reality often catches couples by surprise once they return from there honeymoon and have time to really sit back and discuss life after the wedding.

Derrick:​       There can be a letdown after the wedding and at the beginning of your life together.  That’s exactly what happened to Mistianna and I once we returned from our honeymoon. Once we started talking, we realized that when we were engaged, we lost sight of the reason we wanted to marry each other in the first place. We were so focused on planning our wedding and dealing with all the wedding stress that we forgot for a bit what originally attracted us to each other.There is really so much we do to get ready for that one, big, special day. The question that we had to ask ourselves and that we now ask you is – do we pour ourselves into our marriages in the same way that we did planning for our wedding day? After all, our marriages should be filled with thousands of special days. After having that discussion, Mistianna and I realized that celebrating the small things in our marriage, like committing to 30 minutes of uninterrupted “Couch Time” each day (communication time and face to face talking), having regularly scheduled Date Nights, calling each other during the day to say “I Love You”, sending romantic and “hot” love texts during the day to one another, meeting for lunch for a quick unscheduled date, having regular budget meeting and making sure we go to church together and sit together when I am not needed or scheduled to serve as Deacon of the Mass are really as important as celebrating our Wedding Day.

Mistianna:​  While a Wedding Day is a very important and a very special day, it should be the beginning, and not the end, of a couple pouring their lives and love into one another. So, now that the wedding has been celebrated, and the honeymoon is over, do something to ensure that your marriage will last a lifetime. Actively pursue knowledge of your spouse now that you’re married. Ask questions, tell stories, and get to know the cast of characters in each other’s world. Practice empathy. Make it a habit to learn one new thing about each other, each day. Find out how you each receive care, compliments, and even correction. And don’t take this work for granted: It’s the foundation of intimacy in your marriage, and that is “HOT STUFF”.

Derrick:​       Finally, we’d like to recommend an awesome book that will really help you each discover your love language or the way you receive love and give love, and how your partner also responds to receiving and giving love. The book is by Gary Chapman, and it’s called “The Five Love Languages”. Falling in love is easy, we all know that; but, staying in love, well that’s the challenge. How can you keep your relationship fresh and growing after the honeymoon is over, amid the demands, conflicts, and just plain boredom of everyday life? In “The 5 Love Languages”, you’ll discover the secret that has transformed millions of relationships worldwide. Whether your relationship is flourishing or failing, Dr. Gary Chapman’s proven approach to showing and receiving love will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your partner. The 5 Love Languages is as practical as it is insightful and it will definitely help create and develop the intimacy, you newlyweds are looking for as you work to build a marriage that WILL last a lifetime.

Good luck and God Bless!

Deacon Derrick Barnes and his wife Mistianna serve the parish of St. Margaret Mary in the Archdiocese of Louisville as well as the Louisville Engaged Encounter program.

“Sitting At The Feet Of Socrates”

by Deacon Stephen Bowling

At this time of the year when going back to school is on the mind of so many, I can’t help but wonder how many folks see learning as something that belongs only in the classroom.

One of my fondest memories as a child was of listening to an adult whom I loved – my father, mother, grandparents or whomever – tell me things about the world and life in general.

I learned how to plow a field from my grandfather, how to weed a garden from my mother (although I absolutely hated the task) and a great deal about the history of Western Civilization from my dad.

Through these and many other experiences, I came to learn that one of the very best ways to really learn something was to simply spend some significant time with a wise person, kind of like how Plato described learning from his mentor Socrates . . . he would just literally sit at his feet and listen.

Is this not one of the most beautiful treasures associated with the idea of family? Is not the family the very place where the passing along of wisdom from one generation to another is made a reality?

Just as faith is first taught in the home and through the family, cannot the same be said with regard to all forms of virtue and wisdom?

The family is the best of teachers, as it says in the blessing at the end of the Church’s Rite of Baptism, and as such it must always be a place where learning is a key component in its everyday life. While school may come into and out of session with the seasons, the family’s duty to “impart wisdom” is a responsibility which must always be kept both alive and active at all times and in all weathers.

As children grow, parents often look backwards and see how far and how fast they have come. Should not this all-too-common moment of reflection perhaps serve as a powerful motivator for each of us . . . encouraging us to “be present” for our children all that much more while they are still young and at home with us?

Conversation is the art of being uniquely human . . . it is the place where we learn to both listen and contribute to the betterment of both the world in general and, in particular, our places within it.

Perhaps our task this fall, as learning once again comes back into term, might be for us to spend some new time conversing with the young people whom we love and value. I suspect that this true gift from our hearts and minds would be one which would always be treasured . . . by both them and us.

Family Adventures!

by Deacon Stephen Bowling

Okay, I must confess my age . . . I am a child of the late Sixties/ early Seventies, born in 1965 and a TV addict pretty much from the very beginning. (I can remember watching on our old black and white TV some of Star Trek’s Third Season when it first aired in 1969; I was just shy of age four.)

One of those formative, “masterpiece” shows for me (as I think it was for so many around my age thanks to the miracle of syndication) was “Lost In Space”; that gem of a goofy, fun, family-friendly show about a cool family exploring Outer Space together, created by the late Irwin Allen.

Yes, I wanted to be like Will Robinson and have a cool Robot as a best friend, but that’s a story for another day . . .

I recently acquired the Complete Series on Blu-Ray and am actually surprised at how well the show has aged. Recognizing the thrill of nostalgia it holds for me and how that might taint my viewpoint, I nevertheless find that the writing was actually fairly excellent, the concept, while goofy sometimes, was almost always simply FUN . . . and more importantly the family structure on which the show firmly sat was always presented as front and center in every episode.

Talk about a family friendly show! A family which actually enjoyed being together, who would always keep each other first in their hearts and in their actions, and who could explore the wonders of creation together was the very central premise of the show every week! How cool was that?

I find that family adventure time together is something we often tend to think of at this time of the year, as vacations are scheduled and road-trips become our well-deserved “break” from everyday life. But one of the things that the “Space Family Robinson” reminded me of when I was watching some of the episodes recently is that “Family Adventure” is not something just for special events or for when the schedule permits . . . it’s for always.

The Robinson Family lived their adventures together constantly . . . for them, everything was an adventure! Now I know that’s how the show was intended to be structured of course, but is there not a lesson there for all of us?

Should our families not have a constant diet of “adventure” rather than just as an occasional treat?

It’s worth some scrutiny as to how we live our lives and of the activities we frequently partake in to see, just how how much family “adventure” we have. With the “summer frame of mind” which we are all now enjoying, perhaps we might consider some dose of regular family adventure making a frequent appearance on our calendar. Something as simple as going to a new restaurant together or finding a new walking location . . . as long as whatever it is can be taken together as a family, that all-important “togetherness” experience is something pretty much guaranteed to always rejuvenate the spirit.

And I’m sure that even a marathon of “Lost In Space” episodes watched together would count.

“Building Your Financial Foundation Workshop For Newly Married Couples” – October 7th and 28th, 2017

The Family Ministries Office is proud to announce the first of its many upcoming programs designed to assist and accompany couples in the critical first few years of marriage!

Did you know that many of the critical issues facing newly married couples today have their roots in financial areas? 

Come and join other couples in their first 5 years of marriage as we spend two intensive and personalized days with certified financial planner Jerry Zimmerer from D. Scott Neal, Inc. as we dive deeply into proven financial practices and planning and explore how such critical tools and techniques can support, enrich and strengthen Catholic marriages!

Jerry has been a presenter with our Foundation For Marriage program for several years, giving a broad overview of financial management to engaged couples, and as such is proud to offer this new intensive program where couples use their own personal data, desires and situations to come up with plans specifically designed to help them grow and succeed financially as they begin their married lives together.

The program runs over two different Saturdays. The first session – where concepts are introduced and initial planning is made – will be held on October 7, 2017. The second session – where the couples come back with their personal plans for coaching and personalized advice – will be held on October 28, 2017.  (Attendance at BOTH sessions is necessary.)

Both sessions will be held at St Gabriel Parish, 5505 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY, 40291 in Loft 1 from 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM each day.

Pre-registration is required and the cost for attending is at the SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY PRICE  of $110 per couple which includes all materials and personalized content as well as lunch on both days.

Registration is strictly limited to the first 20 couples to assure the proper individualized attention and can be done online HERE.

For further details, or if you have any questions, please contact Deacon Stephen Bowling at the Family Ministries Office at sbowling@archlou.org.

Please don’t miss out on this special opportunity to get personal financial advice from a certified financial planner at a fraction of the normal cost with special attention to the unique gifts and treasures we find in married life!

“Saving Your Best for Your Spouse”

by Deacon Derrick and Mistianna Barnes

Mistianna and I have been together in our lives, between dating and marriage, more than we have been apart.  And I would love to tell you that we are the perfect couple, never fighting, always in perfect harmony and lock step in the way we see that things need to happen, but I can’t.  Like all great successful marriages, we both have our own views on topics and have had to learn the hard way how to have a great, loving, and successful marriage.

In the following article we hope to be able to share with you some hard learned lessons that if you read carefully you may not have to make in your marriage.

Being a Deacon couple, we are blessed to work with a lot of engaged couples as they prepare for the Sacrament of Marriage. And, since we’ve been married almost 23 years, ourselves, we have a lot of loving, a lot of living, and a lot of life lessons to offer them and the newly married on what it’s really like to be happily married and to have a love affair for a lifetime.

Five weeks before our wedding, when we should have been awash with words of wisdom, the only advice I can recall getting is what my Great Aunt Ruby told us half a lifetime ago:

“Darlings,” she said, “be interesting people, each of you on your own. Follow your own dreams, have your own hobbies, and use your own gifts to better our world. But always be your best and save your best for your sweetheart .”

Mistianna: At first, Aunt Ruby’s advice didn’t have much of an impact on how we interacted as a newly married couple. After all, we were young and in love and couldn’t keep our hands off each other; we were truly passionate about being together. It was only after our first year of marriage had come and gone that Aunt Ruby’s advice really started to hit home with me. You see, I am a very social and very chatty person and I not only needed face to face communication with Derrick, I missed talking intimately with him on a daily basis. So, it became very clear that I not only needed Derrick’s best in the area of communication, when we both came home from work, but I craved it. I needed the same love and attention he had given me while we were dating and engaged now that we were newlyweds.

Derrick: Sure while dating I had all the time in the world to sit and chat and lavish attention on my beautiful fiancée but when life settled in things had to change.  Graduation from college, work and a social life left little time for hours of exploring each other through conversation.

I needed Mistianna to appreciate how hard I worked for our family and tell me about it a lot.  I know that it seems that this is the cliché sensitive male ego at work here.  After all in all the fairy tales there was always a Knight in shining armor, and I wanted my princess to recognize this.  It made getting up and working hard all worth it when my princess wife told me how much she appreciated my hard work.

But what I have come to learn is that I really like words of affirmation and acknowledgment.  What I was failing to see was that like me Mistianna needed acknowledgment of her needs as well.

Mistianna: Saving your best for your spouse, isn’t always easy. Especially, in our fast paced, technology swamped and “it’s all about me” culture. Society encourages us to be all we can be, even at the expense of the one we love and cherish the most, our spouse. I believe it’s this selfish type of thinking that pulls newlyweds away from each other instead of closer together and ultimately has a negative impact on their new marriage. My Aunt Ruby encouraged Derrick and I to be different than society, to break the norm and require more of ourselves than what society required of us together. In her infinite wisdom, she knew that if we each saved our best self for each other, every aspect of our marriage would become a priority in our life together. Saving the best version of ourselves for the other after a long day at the office, or after being up all night with a sick child, or after each of our mothers passed away or even after I lost my job and became disabled, wasn’t easy. Sometimes it was beyond difficult, it was tough as hell. But, it was the best piece of advice we ever received about being married. It was the advice that allowed us to put each other and our marriage first. It helped us each be vulnerable with one another, and cling to each other during the hard times and “worser” times in our marriage.

Earlier I told you what it was that I needed Mistianna to recognize in order for me to feel love.  It only took a few “animated discussions” for me to figure out how to get the best out of my spouse.  The secret is to give them what they need and in return they give you what you need.  Saving your best self for your spouse is really the easiest way for your sweetheart to know that you love them in a way that they can appreciate and usually in return they want to give you what you need.

So, in short, I learned that when I actively and fully talk to Mistianna about her day and share with her what happened in my day; she totally reciprocated by telling me how proud of me she was.  So by giving her my best, she gave me her best as well.

Saving your best self for your sweetheart isn’t a guarantee for a happily ever after marriage, but it’s definitely a great practice to start doing as you start your new life together. We believe saving your best self for your spouse says to your beloved “You are important to me,” “You are my top priority,” and, “I value you above all others.” If you remember back to when you were dating and when you got engaged, hopefully you’ll remember how passionate you felt about hanging out together, and just sharing your life with one another. If you look at being married as dating for a lifetime, you will always save the best part of yourself for your spouse. You will covet your time together, crave conversations with one another, forgive more freely, and love more passionately. If you save your best self for your sweetheart, we hope, you will have what we have found, a love affair of a lifetime.

Deacon Derrick is assigned to Saint Margaret Mary Parish in Louisville, KY where he and Mistiana are parishioners.

“Motherhood Is . . .”

by Deacon Stephen Bowling

In the liner notes of his 1975 album “Windsong”, the late John Denver wrote about how he had tried to record the sound of the wind in order to incorporate it into the album which carried its name, but for some reason, he “could never capture the sound on tape so as to do it any justice.”

This is the same kind of problem one has when trying to adequately describe all that goes into the concept of motherhood . . . our language is simply not big enough to do justice to the power and beauty that the word encompasses. The word defies being forced into any description we might wish to place upon it . . . nevertheless during the month of May every year we all make our attempts at doing so.

Perhaps it is this deficiency which drew me to the above quote on motherhood by Gilda Radner. I think it more than any other begins to capture the true essence of motherhood without in any way diminishing the grandeur and holiness it carries with it. In many ways the quote actually seems to enhance the term – something I thought impossible before finding it.

“Infinite Optimism” may be a phrase which begins to tell the story properly.

Motherhood always seems to me to be at its heart an act of positivity . . . something, as John Denver himself said on that very same album, which “works in the service of life and the living . . . part of the movement, part of the growing, part of beginning to understand.” Mothers always look for the best in us; they support us when we are in need, they protect us when we are afraid, and perhaps most important of all, they love us for just who we are, just as we are.

“Infinite optimism” is perhaps one of the most succinct descriptions for Holy Mother Church as well. Even though there are many who might not be able to live up to this ideal expression of motherhood, the Church herself absolutely must do so . . . to assist those in need and to model for us all exactly how “mothering” was intended by God to be done from the very beginning.

The Church indeed works in “service of life and the living” as it seeks to accompany us along our journey through this life. Our benefit is always in her heart, our welfare is her intent and our success and salvation are ever her wishes for us.

The Church is our spiritual mother and the infinite optimism she pours forth upon us in the sacraments is intended to become a living part of us, just as the Gospel itself is as well.

On this upcoming Mother’s Day . . . a day when we seek to remember our own mothers’ “infinite optimism” (or at least their best attempts towards it) we also should take a moment and remember Mother Church and her best attempts at achieving this sacred goal too. Just as with most mothers, the attempts and the successes are far more numerous than we might always remember . . . and the victories that she has achieved for us are very much worth celebrating anew once more.

“Alleviating that Sense of Dread . . .”

by Deacon Stephen Bowling

As our Lenten observance this year comes to a close, I cannot help but feel a sense of trepidation. I know the stories we will relive in the coming days. The Passion itself looms large in my mind and I cannot help but face it like Jesus surely did . . . with a sense of profound sorrow and dread.

We often carry forward our attitudes from childhood and this time of the year is no different. Christmas for me was always a time of joy and anticipation . . . whereas Good Friday always seemed to be a scary but necessary moment which mentally stood in the way of my properly remembering the Easter miracle.

I now know better of course . . . but that feeling of dread still persists in me for some reason. And in feeling that dread in myself, I cannot help but think about those who may live with feelings like that all the time . . .

Continue reading ““Alleviating that Sense of Dread . . .””