Friday, August 28, 2009


About a month after our wedding, Daniel and I officially registered as parishioners at the church near our home, the same church that I have attended with my family for the past ten years. The staff there knows me by face and by family, but did not necessarily know Daniel’s name. After filling out the form as “Daniel and Sarah H,” I felt the need to clarify in the comments section at the bottom of the page so that they would know who I was: “my maiden name is Sarah B.”

Being parishioners means that offertory envelopes arrive in the mail addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Daniel H.” A new pack arrived yesterday. Daniel and I have been determined to be active parishioners right from the beginning, and this includes weekly giving to the Church. I have received advice from my parents and others that I should always be generous in tithing no matter what my financial situation is like. As long as a person does this, he or she will be alright. There will always be enough.

Another way we are going to be active in our parish is through co-teaching a sixth grade religious education class beginning in a few weeks. My sister Annie is in the class, so she is going to have her sister and brother-in-law as teachers, plus another sister (Jane) as the class aide. Our family is going to be everywhere in that classroom! Daniel and I are really looking forward to being catechists together, and can’t wait for the year to start.

Since Daniel and I married young, pretty much all of the married couples in our parish are older than us. And the couples who don’t have children all look to be significantly older than us, too. In fact, when we were going through marriage prep with our sponsor couple, they told us we were the first couple they had that was younger than them! I guess as time goes by, more and more couples our age will marry and “settle down” in our area; we would love to be able to connect with other young Catholic newlyweds near us.

In speaking about the Church, I can’t neglect the Catholic view of the family as the “domestic church.” Daniel and I are a family unit of our own, even though we haven’t “started a family” yet in the common understanding of the phrase. We are called to make our domestic church here and now, built around the sacrament of marriage, in preparation for the expansion plans God holds for our future. This is why Daniel and I are trying to build our home and our life with God as its foundation. Pope John Paul II said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” In our unremarkable and imperfect way, we are going to try to do our part—starting now.

Have a good weekend!

Friday, August 21, 2009


I am no longer a student, but I still feel the excitement of fresh beginnings with the start of a new school year. Having attended Catholic grade school and a Catholic college, I have always operated in three different “years,” all going at once. There’s the Church’s Liturgical year, beginning with the first Sunday of Advent; the calendar year, beginning on January 1st; and finally the school year, beginning in late August or early September.

The school year has always been primary for me. The school year carries a lot more meaning than the calendar year. Things don’t really change on January 1st, unless you count your own New Year’s resolutions. It is the school year that carries with it all the changes: summer breaks/vacations are over and students move up from one grade level to the next or move from one school to another. New clothes and shoes are bought, new hairstyles are tried out, new friends are made, and new authority figures come into play. Parents put their five-year-olds on school buses for the first time and watch them ride off into big-kid-dom. For a lot of seventeen and eighteen-year-olds, a new school year means moving away from their parents’ home for the first time. Fall sports, scouts, musical instruments, Sunday school—all start up again with the beginning of a new school year.

Like I said, I am not a student myself any more, but I’m not so far removed that the new school year has lost all of its significance in my mind. I find myself thinking of this as the first “school year” of Daniel’s and my marriage—I know that’s a little silly. Of course, Daniel is going back to school this year. He had his first day of his internship for his clinical psychology masters’ program yesterday, and he’ll start up classes after Labor Day. He also works in a school, which means that he’ll be working more hours come Monday, now that the summer session has ended and a new year is beginning.

What this all means for me is that I’m really being given the opportunity to prove myself as the “helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). When Daniel’s working full time, plus an extra sixteen hours a week for his internship, plus at least one class a week along with homework, he is without a doubt going to need as much help as I can give him. I’ve been brainstorming to come up with a list of all the different little ways that I might be able to make his life easier… but I’m not going to list any of them here, otherwise Daniel will read them and come to expect certain things. And since I’ve been known to be a bit more ambitious than I’m capable of executing, I certainly can’t have that! :-)

While Daniel will be spending a lot of his Saturdays this fall getting in his internship hours, I have a pretty good idea of what I should be spending my time alone doing. Actually, I shouldn’t be spending it alone! In the months leading up to the wedding, I was so wrapped up in planning a wedding and preparing for a marriage that I think that some of my other relationships were neglected. I heard a homily this week that included the seemingly simple reminder that the two ingredients every relationship needs are: time and attention. I need to give a little bit more time and attention to my female friendships and family relationships than I have been; I also need to focus more on my personal relationship with God through an increase in private time spent in prayer. All of this is inclusive in the vocation of marriage; while my life does and should revolve around God and my husband first and foremost, Daniel and I should be going out from ourselves to share our joy with others. I recognize this as something I need to work on—please pray for me.

Also, please pray for Daniel as he starts his new, super-busy schedule and good luck to all of you who are preparing for fresh starts as the 2009-2010 school year begins—God bless!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Joys of Marriage

A couple of weeks ago, one reader commented that I haven’t been focusing enough on the joys of marriage in my blog. So, I decided to come up with a list of some of the joys of my marriage to Daniel. I love easy tasks, and this certainly was one! In no particular order, here you go:

-- Being able to see each other every single day of every single week
-- Having my best friend around all the time, so that I can share everything with him without having to pick up the phone
-- Sharing our days in person rather than over the phone

--Doing routine grocery shopping together and making meals for each other in our very own kitchen
--Being called “Mrs. Hammond” by new people that I meet or speak to on the phone

--Calling Daniel “my husband” and having Daniel introduce me as his wife
--Continuing to work on our home together and knowing the satisfaction of seeing it finished
--Learning more about each other every day, even though we dated for nearly five years before we got married

-- Folding each other’s laundry (although folding laundry itself is not exactly a joy, for now it’s a newlywed joy to be folding Daniel’s socks and know that this house is where they belong)
-- Watching movies we both love on the couch on a Friday night
-- Looking forward to understanding what it will mean to love each other even more than we do today
-- Planning for the future, imagining what our lives and our family will be like

-- Knowing that we are already on our chosen path of serving God, and that our most important decision has already been made and our vocation has begun
-- Reading and praying together every night before we go to bed
-- Being silly and laughing hysterically when we are alone, knowing that we are free to be so completely ourselves, more than we can ever be with anyone else
-- Being held in the arms of the one I love as I fall asleep, and the feeling of peace that comes in knowing that there is nowhere else in the world I’d rather be

-- Feeling like I am the luckiest girl in the world to have such a good man who loves me so much
-- Praying that God teach me how to love my husband better, and believing that, little by little, He will
-- Seeing ourselves five years ago in light of the man and woman we are today, realizing how much we have both grown in every aspect of our lives, and knowing that as we grew, we grew together
-- Looking back over our memories of the past five years since Daniel and I began dating (beginning with the story Daniel told you last week) and seeing God’s hand in it all
-- Hearing songs like this one and getting chills (like I did in the car the other day) because I know exactly what the artist (in this case Martina McBride) means:

I have been blessed
and I feel like I’ve found my way
I thank God for all I’ve been given
at the end of every day
I have been blessed
with so much more than I deserve
To be here with the one
that loves me
To love him so much it hurts
I have been blessed

What are some of the joys in your marriages? I would love to hear them, and I’m sure others would, too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Voice of Choice

This week's entry is written by Daniel.

Let me begin by saying that I am not as eloquent as my wife. To give you proper perspective, Sarah worked at the writing center when we were in college and I was a frequent user of the writing center. That said, I would like to focus on a few things in this post through an all-encompassing story. I hope to address my faith, conflicts within marriage, and my new understanding of love. That’s not such a bad thesis (maybe the writing center did help!)

I remember when Sarah and I never fought. In the first days of dating, you want to seem as pleasing as possible to the other person, but eventually that changes (as it should.) One day, Sarah and I had a fight about religion and God. This was by no means our first fight, but it was a fight that I will NEVER forget.

At that time, I was practically an agnostic. I did not believe God existed because I couldn’t prove it in my mind. I had no “proof” that God existed, therefore he did not. Then one day Sarah and I had a conversation about faith.

Not too far into this conversation, Sarah and I were upset with each other and she was practically in tears. I don’t raise my voice when arguing which drives Sarah crazy because I’m calm when she thinks I should be showing more emotion. For the life of me, I cannot remember the sentence that preceded what Sarah said to me, but what she said to me changed my life forever. After arguing with all my intellect, Sarah responded with this simple phrase, “You don’t understand because you don’t have as much faith as I do.”

I’m not sure how to describe the way I felt when she said that. I didn’t believe in God, but her statement hit me like a bullet. What does she mean she has more faith than I do?? The nerve of that girl! Who does she think I am? Not knowing what to say, I stormed out of the room after having to move Sarah out of my way (don’t worry I just picked her up and moved her 6 inches). She was yelling my name down the hallway, saying she was sorry but I was already out of the building.

I don’t remember running, but I was at my destination faster than I had ever been before. Furious with Sarah, I had to take time to cool off. I stopped at a park bench near the school library, pacing back and forth. I was a mess. I didn’t believe there was a God, so why was I so bothered that I didn’t have as much faith as she did? I’m better off not believing in her silly religion anyway, right? But I couldn’t stop thinking about what she said.

An hour went by as I sat on the bench. Then it happened. While slumping over on a bench in the middle of our college campus with my hands wrapped around my head, I heard a voice. Not just any voice, but a voice that I had never heard before. It was a calm, clear, non-gendered voice, neither high nor low. Hearing voices is a cause for concern to a 19 year old clinical psychology student, but the voice was comforting, as a best friend’s voice is comforting when you are all alone and scared. The voice simply said “Go back.” It never repeated itself, but it was one of the clearest things I have ever heard. So I listened, and I went back.

When I went back to Sarah, I found her in tears. Even though she was crying she looked more beautiful to me than ever before. I could see that she loved me and that she was very sad at the thought of losing me, even though I was the one in the wrong. She hugged me and we talked for hours with a million apologies on both sides. I believe that I heard the voice of God that night.

After all our years together, I finally understand why the voice sent me back. God could have said, “Hey dummy, I’m over here.” God could have done wondrous things to prove to me that he existed. But he didn’t want to prove himself to me, he wanted me with Sarah. Over the next several years, I began to deepen my faith with Sarah. It started with prayer and then church. She taught me how faith could make sense. I learned from her (and others) that the existence of God and miracles doesn’t conflict with logic, but that logically the world could only exist through God.

What happened that night has spilled over into my entire life. First, faith makes sense; once I held God as a truth everything else seemed to fit, but without God nothing fit. Second, having a wonderful wife, family, and friends has taught me that faith deepens through relationships because each one of us holds Christ within us. Our faith becomes more powerful and understandable when we share it, rather than hide it. Third, our marital fights may be very serious, but we always know how they will end. Each of us now knows that we are meant for the other. We constantly try to lead each other to Christ because that is what it means to love someone. Sometimes we just forget and argue about dishes or the fact that I sleep all the time.

Fourth and finally, I am always listening for that voice to tell me what to do again. But what I have learned over the years is that voice now comes from within me. I have never experienced that feeling again, but I believe that God opened my heart to help me see his will more clearly. God never told me what to do, but he made the choice obvious.

Since this is probably the only time that I will ever get something "published" I just wanted to add an acknowledgement. I would like to thank God for always leading my heart with his message of love, and to my wife, Sarah, who helps me listen and interpret.