#Marriage Link Up // Feet Washing Ceremony

Today I am linking up with Messy Marriage, To Love, Honor and Vacuum, and To Travel and Beyond to talk about our feet washing ceremony.

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When Steven and I were planning our wedding reception, we knew we wanted to add our own Catholic touches. Something we had always admired was couples who added a feet washing ceremony to their reception. We immediately wanted to follow in their footsteps, so to speak.

“If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13: 14-15)

For us, a feet washing ceremony was a sign of being humble, thoughtful, and willing to serve each other. We had a pitcher with just a little water in it, a bowl, and a towel. I went first. I sat in a chair and Steven helped take my shoes off (which, I have to admit was nice after wearing 4 inch heels all day). He gently washed my feet. Then we switched. Sometimes only the bride has her feet washed, but we knew we both wanted to serve each other.

Washing my husband’s feet was a sign of love and honor for him, my new spouse. Kneeling before him showed my great love for him and placed me in a position of prayer and humility. When he washed my feet, I felt an overwhelming sense of love from both Steven and from the Father. I felt that I would never have to “go it alone” again. I also felt humble, knowing that I was being served and allowing my husband to help me.

The entire ceremony was beautiful. We wanted to follow the example of Christ. Was it a bit awkward? Yes. But it boosted our commitment to each other and was a gentle reminder of how loved I am by husband and by my Lord.

A side note: We had a song picked out to play during the ceremony (Love Never Fails by Brandon Heath), but our DJ missed the memo and did not play the song. At first we felt funny since it was so quiet and since we specially chose that song, but afterwards many, many of our friends came up to us and complimented us on how silent the room was (seriously, you could hear a pin drop). It meant the world that our friends and family were so supportive. My eyes are tearing up just remembering how many compliments we received throughout the night.

“Love is the river than flows through. Love is the arms that are holding you. Love is the place you will fly to. Love never fails you.” Brandon Health

feet washing

(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

I am thankful we chose to do this ceremony. I am also thankful our photographer captured this beautiful moment for us to treasure forever and remember our daily call to lay down our lives for one another.

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To Travel and Beyond
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Monday’s Musings Link-Up // Future Husband Letters

Today I’m linking up with What Joy is Mine to share about writing letters to my future husband.

In the 7th grade I began to pray for my future husband by starting a journal filled with love letters. I found such great value in writing these letters, because I was able to honor my future spouse and pour my prayers into our marriage before we even met. It was always my prayer that he would feel loved by these letters, knowing that I waited fully for him, prayed for him, and sacrificed for him.

When I wrote, I would imagine how much he would love cracking open the journal and seeing the pages of my heart poured out right in front of him. I knew some letters would make him laugh, while others would make him cry. I would dream about what we could do for the Lord together and what our marriage would look like centered on Christ.

The journal kept me accountable to the Lord by saving my heart for my husband. I shared what I was looking forward to doing with him, what I wanted to accomplish in life together, and many prayers for his spiritual growth and our relationship. I also shared favorite quotes from the Bible or books I was reading at the time.

The letters show snapshots of where I was in life, sharing moments of great joy and great sorrow. Over the years, the journal began to fill with my hopes, dreams, fears, and deepest secrets. As it progressed, especially when I met Steven, I saw a longing to lay down my life for another. I shared those emotions through my writing to him.

I wrote frequently and shared the deepest desires of my heart. I did not hold anything back. I wrote about my weaknesses, my successes, and areas where I needed prayers. I had such a deep longing to pray for the one person that God set aside for me. Whether I was called to marry another human being or whether I was called to marry the Church through the vows of religious life, I wanted to grow in virtue and holiness by praying for my future spouse and vocation.

I told myself I would give the journal to my husband-to-be on our wedding day, if I was called to marriage. My dream came true. On our wedding day, I had my maid of honor deliver this special journal to my groom.

Future Husband Letters

(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

The journal now resides on his dresser and he reads a few letters at a time. There are hundreds, so he is working through them slowly. I love getting a glimpse of what page he is on and re-reading the letters when he leaves the book open.

Writing letters to him was such a treasure. I am thankful and blessed I started this collection way back when and I am confident all of those prayers I said as a teenager will bless our marriage.

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Currently Link-Up // November

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Today I’m linking up with In Residence and Gold and Bloom for the November edition of currently to share what I have been cooking, planning, smelling, appreciating and anticipating lately.

Cooking // In our marriage, Steven does all the cooking – which, trust me, is a good thing. Tonight we had delicious pork with fresh pineapple, asparagus, and rice. Then we had yummy pumpkin role for dessert. Thank you West Side Market for all of the delicious fresh food!

Planning // Phew! Too much. Tomorrow I am leading Edge Middle School Ministry and then I have a Fall Retreat Team meeting, because our Fall Retreat is this weekend! Come, Holy Spirit! It is about to be a whirlwind few days.

Smelling // Fresh air! It was 70+ degrees here today. That is a miracle for a November in Ohio, so we have the windows cracked and screen door open.

Appreciating // Daily prayer time with my sweet husband. I love when bedtime rolls around and he comes into the bedroom to say our nightly Ignatian Examen and the “Fall in Love” prayer by Pedro Arrupe, SJ. Steven is SO close to having it memorized. It is my favorite time of the day.


Anticipating // Our first Thanksgiving as a married couple. As of right now we are planning on having our own mini-meal on Wednesday night just the two of us and then on Thursday spending time with both of our families. I think it is a good compromise since we want to spend time together, but also with our loved ones.

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#Tell His Story Link-Up // The Proposal

“Holiness means giving ourselves in sacrifice every day. And so married life is a tremendous path to sanctity!” Pope Francis

Steven proposed on November 15, 2014. I cannot believe it has been almost a year since that beautiful, holy day. Today is Wednesday, so I am joining in with the #TellHisStory Link-Up to share our proposal story, because it has has God’s fingerprints written all over it. So friends, here is our proposal story, written by the best Divine author.
Her Side

When God writes your love story, you know it is going to be beautiful. When I was a sophomore in college, I was introduced to Patti through a mutual friend. We were both searching for roommates and met up for coffee to see if we would be a good fit. Long story short, we lived together for two years and formed an incredible friendship. Patti was right along my side when I met Steven and she has been a constant friend throughout Steven and I’s love story.

Steven, well aware of our friendship, worked with Patti to bring me to John Carroll University’s Saint Francis Chapel – one of my favorite places in the world. Patti is a current student at Walsh University studying for her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Her next clinical rotation was near John Carroll and she asked if I would like to visit apartments with her. I, of course, said yes! On our way, Patti said she needed to stop and use the restroom at Carroll and suggested we could walk through campus to get to the apartment.

She asked if I wanted to walk through the chapel while we were there and my heart exploded with joy. I knew my best friend would be there waiting for me. I immediately saw him praying peacefully by the tabernacle. He later told me that he was praying on the rosary I gave him a few years ago for Christmas – the rosary was for his future wife. My heart… my heart. I carried it in my bouquet on our wedding day and we held it during our engagement pictures!

PicMonkey Collage

(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

When I walked over, Steven took my hand and we prayed a Hail Mary together. We have an incredible devotion to the Blessed Mother, so it was perfect for her to be a part of our proposal. Steven then got down on one knee and used my full name – Mary Cecilia Anastasia Semenczuk – to ask me to be his wife. I said “yes, yes, yes!” before he could even finish.

Afterwards we celebrated with dinner at Melt (yum!) and went to visit his parents and my parents. We are so blessed! It was a beautiful proposal. I could not have dreamed up anything more beautiful, simple, and fitting of our relationship.

His Side

I wanted to propose at John Carroll, because it is a very special place to her. It is also special to us because Mary was a student there when our dating adventure began. I could not ask her friend to ask until I knew that the ring was in, because I wanted it to be a surprise. I do not keep surprises very well. I had two days to plan the proposal with her best friend Patti.

The day of I had planned on getting a haircut and arriving at John Carroll at least an hour before they did; however, Mary needed me to pick her up Ginger Ale, because she had a stomach ache. Before walking into the hair cut place I picked it up for her and brought it to her and then made an excuse to go watch the Notre Dame game. Then the fun began.

Patti was picking up Mary to go looking for apartments, because Patti had a new rotation close to John Carroll. The Notre Dame game kind of threw Mary off the scent of a proposal at John Carroll that day. I stopped to pick up flowers and then went to Saint Francis Chapel and sat and prayed before they got there. Patti asked Mary if she wanted to go to the Chapel and they came in.

I sat down next to Mary and we prayed a Hail Mary. Then I asked her to stand up while I got on one knee. Then I asked her if she would marry me. She said yes before I finished asking the question. We were both super excited and met a student at John Carroll while we were taking pictures at Mary’s beloved Saint Ignatius statue who was even more excited than we were. We then went to Melt for dinner and visited both our parents to share the good news.


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#TestimonyTuesday Link-Up // How We Met

Today I am joining the Testimony Tuesday community. They share about how much God has done in their lives. What an amazing link-up! Count me in. Today I will be sharing how Steven and I met, because it is such a testimony of the goodness of our loving Father.


(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

Mary’s Take

“In December of 2011 I made the decision to attend a Young Adult Retreat for the Diocese of Cleveland at Saint Basil the Great in Brecksville, Ohio. I was hesitant and wavered if I wanted to attend, but my mom encouraged me and in a last minute decision I headed over. The retreat started at 6:00pm with dinner. A handsome man asked if he could sit at my table. The rest of the evening, I could not stop thinking of him. During adoration I even prayed that he would sit next to me… and then he did! When he did, my heart melted (talk about butterflies!) I did not say more than two words to him, but I knew he was truly someone special.

On December 31, the retreat ended and I went home to search for him on Facebook (naturally). I saw that we had over 30 mutual friends and realized we were also members of the Teens Encounter Christ community. That evening I went to a New Years Eve benefit concert at Communion of Saints in Coventry. A few of those mutual friends were there, so of course I asked them about him. Their responses were, “He is the nicest boy” or “He is such a great guy!”

I friend requested him immediately. After a few small conversations, we began our adventure with a date at Tommy’s in Coventry. We followed with dates to Little Italy, the Cleveland Art Museum, and the Cleveland Aquarium. Steven swept me off my feet and our fairy-tale began!”

Steven’s Turn

“I had a friend from college who persuaded me to go on a retreat the day before it started. I was very hesitant about going, because I only knew one person that would be there. When I arrived it was dinner time and I asked to sit at the table Mary was at. We did not talk much then, but later in the night I was kneeling next to her during Adoration and noticed she had a ring on her finger. I later found out this was a Claddagh, which she wore on her ring hand with the heart facing out since she was single. Being a guy I had no idea of what it meant. I just thought she was taken.

After the retreat she sent me a really sweet message over Facebook and wished me a Happy New Year and asked if I enjoyed the retreat. For some reason I knew there was something special and I could not wait to respond. We sent some messages back and forth and I tried to see if she was free to go to a Theology on Tap, but she had class. Then we decided to go to dinner at Tommy’s where I spilled water on myself… twice. She did not seem to mind and said yes to a second date and every date since.”

You guys, every date since. The story of how Steven and I met has God’s fingerprints all over it. We met at a Catholic retreat… Goodness, our Father is SO good. Never once does He let us walk alone. He is such a faithful Lord.

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Holly Barrett

#gratefulheart Link-Up // Grateful Heart Monday

Good morning, friends! I am starting this morning by linking up with Emily from Ember Grey to begin my week with a grateful heart.

Thank God for ministry spouses. Can I get an amen? I could shout to Heaven how thankful I am for Steven’s support of the Life Teen program I lead.

Steven prays just as much, if not more, for the teens who are in my youth ministry program. He empathizes when a teen texts or calls with a serious crisis. He has listened to me practice my XLT, retreat, and Life Night talks over and over again. He has been my automatic Core Member since the moment I said yes to this job. He has endured his fair share of school musicals, Eagle Scout projects, and football games.

Steven is my holy husband, my better half, my best friend, my prayer warrior, my co-missionary, and a true living-saint. When I answered the call to ministry, I answered the call for the both of us. Together we made the commitment to God and to the teens. I could never do this work without my husband supporting, affirming, and encouraging me every step of the way. Without him, I would not last one day in youth ministry.

So, cheers to Steven! He is an amazing youth ministry husband who smiles from the pew while I make announcements at Mass each week and prays over me when I say, “I can’t do this” two minutes before a talk on retreat. Most of all, Steven has helped lead dozens of teens closer to Christ. Through our dating, our engagement, and now our marriage we have been a witness to every single teen we have encountered.

It is my deep desire that the Holy Family can strengthen our marriage as we continue to surrender to God’s will for our lives.

Saint John Bosco, pray for us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
JP II, pray for us.

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Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

#BISsisterhood Link-Up // Communion of Saints

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“I suffered a lot but my soul was singing!”

I’m joining in with the #BISsisterhood Link-Up today to share with you about Blessed Chiara Luce Badano. As we approach the feast of All Saints this weekend, it is a wonderful time to pause and remember the legacy of this soon-to-be-saint dressed in blue jeans.


I first fell in love with Chiara when I found out she failed math in high school and loved to wear blue jeans. Hello,soul sister! Then as I read more, I found a best friend in her.

Chiara was born in 1974 in Sassello, Italy. She loved to sing, hike, play tennis, and spend time with friends. She was a very simple, kind-hearted young teenager who kept Jesus at the very center of her life. She even referred to him as her “spouse” and consistently attended daily mass.

One day while playing tennis, Chiara felt a felt a sharp pain in her shoulder. Soon after the incident she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer. When she became ill, she said, “For you, Jesus. If you want it, I want it too” and continued to put her faith in Him.

She is a prime example of love and suffering. She continually gave her pain to Jesus, trusting in His will and timing, up until the moment of her death in 1990. Her life, love, and light shows me how to lay my suffering down at the feet of the cross. I do not have to bear any of my suffering alone. We do not have to bear our suffering alone!

Come, holy spirit, teach us how to live more like Blessed Chiara!

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