Oh Hey Friday! #2

FIVE ON FRIDAY… READY, GO!

ONE

I lead a weekly Bible Study at Panera Bread for my Life Teen students. Slowly over the past year we have been growing and developing as a small group. We started with a solid one or two girls last year and now we are up to five or six this year! Youth Ministry fluctuates each year, but I am happy to see where we are headed. I am a big believer that youth ministry is not about numbers, but it has been cool to watch my girls evangelizing and reaching out to their peers. The Holy Spirit is at work and it is awesome!

Life Teen just released a new book called Ascend, which is a companion to the Sunday Mass readings. We tried it out for the first time and the girls really enjoyed it! Plus – the readings for this Sunday are incredibly beautiful. Check them out here to prepare your heart for this weekend.

Yes, under that black coat is my student who despises getting her picture taken… we’re working on it 😉

IMG_3541

We also had our Advent party this weekend and it was such a good time. I am thankful for my organized Core Staff for preparing a great evening for the kids. We had a great time! Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

IMG_3521

TWO

Steven and I chaperoned a Life Teen outing Wednesday night. We paired up with Faith Lutheran Church, our next door neighbors to Saint Hilary Catholic Church. It was our first go at an ecumenical event and it was a great success! We went ice skating at Lock 3 in Akron. It’s one of my favorite places. You can’t beat their $3 skating + affordable concession stands. My teens had a great time and it was cool for them to meet kids from the Lutheran Church next door. Bonus – S and I LOVE ice skating, so it was a real treat for us! Next week we are baking Christmas cookies for a local nursing home together. We are excited to hang out with our new Lutheran friends again.

ice skating collage

Blurry photos mean you are having fun, right?

THREE

I added jingle bells to our Christmas presents and I just love how they look! Our home is so cheery and I adore looking under the Christmas tree and seeing the gifts for our family. I feel incredibly blessed that we are able to share our love with our loved ones this way. We are firm believers that this season is more about presence than presents, but it is a real treat to be able to share both. Also, Target has the cutest wrapping paper this year!

FOUR

It has been a big week for the Bacher family. We mailed out our first ever Christmas cards! Check that off the 101 in 1001 and December Goals lists! We decided this year to take it slow and only mail out 20 cards. We sent them to our parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and siblings. We just wrote over 100 wedding thank you notes and we could not imagine sending more than 20 Christmas cards. Although, as I was writing them, I was a little sad I did not have more to send to friends. Lesson learned for next year. Marriage is all about the learning and growth, am I right?

But – look at HOW CUTE they turned out. Thank you Shutterfly for your free $20 discount card, free shipping, and Black Friday deal – which all helped us to get 20 cards for less than $8.

christmas cards

FIVE

I have been listening to this song on repeat. It is so catchy and is really getting me in the Christmas/Advent spirit! It’s called Jesus Savior by Chris August.

Have a great weekend, friends!

blog name logo

Linking up with 5 on Friday

 

Advertisements

Show and Tell Link-Up // Labre Project

Today I am linking up with Andrea on her ‘Show and Tell Tuesdays’ series! Today’s topic is: A service project or mission trip you have been a part of. This topic is very near and dear to my heart. In college I was a participant and leader in the Labre Project, a ministry at John Carroll University. My very first week as a student at John Carroll, a dear friend invited me and I was ruined for life – as the Jesuit motto goes to say. The Labre Project shares food, faith, and friendship with homeless men and women living in Cleveland.

The Labre Project started with a few students from Saint Ignatius High School, a Jesuit college preparatory school in Cleveland. A few students set out in a van with food they had left over from a school event. These students went into the streets of Cleveland and offered food to homeless individuals they saw sleeping on the streets, alleys, and sidewalks. What was beautiful is that they enjoyed it so much, they went out the next Sunday, and the next, and continued to go out every Sunday since.

The ministry name comes from Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, the patron saint of homeless people. The Labre Project was brought to John Carroll University by a group of Saint Ignatius alumni in 2004. The project has continued since 2004 and continues to grow and thrive to this day – never missing a week.

The purpose of Labre was never to feed the homeless. It was always about friendship… and the warm meal was a great bonus. The friendships I created through the Labre Project were mutually beneficial. My walls were broken down, I was pushed far out of my comfort zone, and I had the chance to see the face of God in every single individual I met. The individuals I met would look forward to seeing me and if I was absent would say, “where is Mary this week?” Trust me, it was rare for me to miss a Friday. I just loved it so very much.

Every Friday, students from John Carroll met at 3 PM to prepare food for the evening. The food came from the Cleveland Food Bank. We would also pack up bins filled with toiletries, socks, clothes, shoes, etc. to hand out throughout the course of the evening. My junior and senior year I served as the donations leader and coordinated our messy, messy donations room. After the food was prepared and the bins were packed, there was a brief prayer reflection in the chapel on campus which prepared our hearts and centered us on the true reason for our ministry, which was far beyond earning service hours. At the end of the evening, we would return and pray BY NAME each person we met. I say by name, because these individuals were children of God and naming them reminded us of their dignity as members of our one human family.

What would a typical night look like? 

After prepping and praying, two vans would leave from John Carroll. One van would travel to the East side of Cleveland one to the West. We would visit individuals of all walks of life living in a variety of circumstances. Most individuals we met in hidden places, while others were more public. Some lived along train tracks. A few lived in low-income housing. Most of our friends we saw every.single.week. They knew where to meet us and would wait for our arrival. Others we would see walking along the road or resting and we would stop by to offer them a warm meal and a brief chat, asking how their week was going and if we could bring anything for them in the coming week.

When I graduated from John Carroll in 2012, leaving my friends from Labre was the hardest part of graduating. I moved to Virginia and felt empty without visiting my homeless brothers and sisters each week. I would often sit in my apartment on Friday evenings and think about where the van would be and who they would be visiting. I prayed for them by name and continue to do so on a regular basis. Although I may not see them any more, my friends will always hold a deep place in my heart from their influence, compassion, and witness of perseverance in the face of difficulty.

Join me in the Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Prayer. Let us pray that all individuals without homes may be granted the dignity and worth they are due as children of our great and loving God. Let us pray for all those who are unemployed, underemployed, periodically or permanently homeless. We pray for those unable to afford rent, for children living out of cars, and for all those without access to daily food and water. We also pray for those who live the corporal works of mercy by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, and clothing the naked. May their ministry be powerfully blessed.

“Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, you gave up honor, money, and home for love of Jesus. Help us to set our hearts on Jesus and not on the things of this world. You lived in obscurity among the poor in the streets. Enable us to see Jesus in our poor brothers and sisters and not judge by appearances. Make us realize that in helping them we are helping Jesus. Show us how to befriend them and not pass them by.

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, you had a great love for prayer. Obtain for us the grace of persevering prayer, especially adoration of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, poor in the eyes of men but rich in the eyes of God, pray for us.”

Amen

blog name logo

#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.

blog name logo
Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey