An unexpected lesson when I went out for a jog

June 16, 2015 | 30 comments

Well, this summer is off to a crazy start. I spent four days in the Carolinas for an Edel Gathering site visit. Then, the very next week, I went to Phoenix for four days to give two talks and record videos at the Lifeteen training conference.



Bottom photo by @SrMariaKim

In case you missed that, let me spell this out: I was gone for eight days in a two-week span.

I do not have the kind of life where I can be gone for eight days in a two-week span.

The problem was that the Lifeteen event was at the beginning of June. I booked the Edel Gathering site visit for the end of May because my calendar seemed pretty open then, and it did not occur to me to click the button to bring up the next month’s calendar to see if perhaps I had a very intense event coming up the first day of June. (Yeah. It really happened just like that.)

Moving on with this story before I embarrass myself any further…

Suffice it to say, I am busy. Edel is coming up in just three weeks, I’m working on a website redesign (that I can’t wait to show you!), I’m writing another book, doing my weekly show on SiriusXM. Oh, and we’re having work done on our back yard.


Despite the fact that I always feel the pressure of having more things to get done than there is time to do them, I’ve been trying hard to keep my priorities in the right order. 

I know from Pinterest that this is the right way to live, but it’s hard to do in practice. I’ll be at the frozen yogurt place with the kids, wondering why I was stupid enough to take six kids under age 11 to a frozen yogurt shop but feeling good about spending time with them, and I’ll see a text pop up asking when I’m going to reply to that important email from two weeks ago.

Today, for example, I was just about to go for a jog when I received a flurry of emails that contained urgent action items. They need replies by the end of the day, and I was running out of time. I started to take off my weird running shoes and get to work, but then I remembered that life-changing wisdom from Fr. Joseph Langford, which I once detailed here:

The work that Mother Teresa could not get to she did not think twice about, nor should you or I, since God is not asking you to do what He does not give you the time (or health, or resources) to do. So be at peace.

So I decided to go for the jog. The stuff I had to do today is important, but not at the expense of my health.

It seems like an insignificant moment, but walking out the front door in my jogging clothes was a potent symbolic gesture. It was a leap of faith that if I put first things first, my life might not completely fall apart — even if it meant not accomplishing as much as I wanted to in the day.

And I didn’t just go for a short jog.

I was tempted to turn around at a nearby corner, but I went all the way to the cul de sac that I go to when I’m doing a “full workout” jog. Take that, to-do list!

Just after I left the cul de sac, I saw a man in black walking up to a house. I blinked and took off my sunglasses, because it almost looked like he was wearing a cassock. Obviously that would be impossible in my suburban Texas neighborhood — around here there are hardly any Mass-going Catholics, let alone priests, let alone cassock-wearing priests.

When I got closer, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that he was indeed a priest, and that was indeed a cassock. Not knowing how else to begin a conversation, I exclaimed while panting for breath, “You’re a priest!”

He introduced himself as Fr. Michael Malain, a newly ordained Catholic priest with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter who was here visiting family. We had a wonderful conversation, and at the end of it I was able to get a special blessing — IN LATIN! As Fr. Malain spoke the words of the blessing, it was one of those powerful moment when I truly felt the presence of Christ.

…And then I asked if we could take a selfie so that I could prove that I wasn’t making this up.


It is actually not a normal part of my jogging routine to get blessed by a priest in Latin, so I felt certain that God was doing something here.

As I jogged back to my house, filled with joy and gratitude for this unexpected gift from God, I felt the words whispered to my heart:

Keep your priorities in the right order. I’ll take care of the rest.


  1. Ashley

    Oh wonderful! The FSSP is so wonderful; we owe so much of our spiritual growth to their parishes.

  2. Jose

    Years ago when my knee wasn’t a mess, I also ran into a priest while out and about and asked him for my blessing. THEN a few months later he ended up becoming our parish priest because he moved from the Sacramento Cathedral across the river to my town!

    So stoked for you!

  3. Lauren M

    He’s wonderful! He’ll be offering a solemn high mass (in the extraordinary form) this Sunday at St. Mary Cathedral in thanksgiving for his ordination! 🙂

  4. Mary

    Love moments like these, when God surprises us! You will never miss a jog again. Gods got your back my friend ????

  5. Sue

    I had a similar experience today. I made a public commitment to do yoga for 100 days for #the100dayproject on Facebook yesterday and a colleague of mine commented to wait until today because she was teaching a class at our University’s rec center. I took her up on attending and really considered backing out because my house was a mess and this was an hour when my child was at a camp and I could really get some work done. But, instead, I went. And it was glorious! So happy I went and now I think I’m going to join the rec center (faculty can buy memberships – students are free) and start going regularly. I really felt like it was a message. I NEED this. And I will be a better mom, a better teacher, a better person if I give it to myself regularly. Thanks for sharing! God is speaking to us…

  6. Christine

    FSSP priests are awesome! I hope you’re able to go to Fr. Malain’s Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral mentioned in the comments. God bless you!

  7. Sharon

    SO awesome! See…God totally wanted you to get out for that time, and then sent you a special blessing to reassure you….AWESOME!

    BTW…I’ll be praying for you all during the Edel Gathering. I SOOO wanted to be there…I will be there in spirit. Maybe next time.


  8. Terry Weaver

    thank you! You always share an amazing story right when I need to hear those words of encouragement.

  9. Theresa

    That’s so amazing! I’ve been running more the last few weeks and it has been shockingly refreshing to take some time to take care of my health! It’s amazing how God works!

  10. Emily

    Thank you for sharing this! I am excited for all of your other projects, but I have missed you here on the blog. (In light of the whole priorities discussion, that wasn’t intended to make you feel guilty…just a genuine thought that I’m glad you popped up in my feedly!)

    Also, congratulations on looking better mid-run than I do mid-sitting on the couch.

  11. Lynne

    Wow you look GREAT for just being out for a jog!

    Hey, I’m going on a pilgrimage to Rome and some surrounding cool holy places for the next couple of weeks. I’ll pray for your family while there! But not in Latin. St. Catherine/Francis/Padre Pio–pray for us!

  12. Mike

    Jennifer what a great story.
    God sure is the God of surprises.
    Brilliant quote from Mother Teresa.
    just what I needed to read today.
    I thank God that he never lets us go
    and that we are infinitely dear to Him.
    i also thank Him for knowing what He is
    doing about everything that worries us
    in this life. Shortage of priests? he will sort it!!!
    terrible wars in the middle east. do all we can then leave it.
    Etc. Etc.

  13. Jen Das

    Jen, I love the moral of this story! I believe in God-incidences! And I always introduce myself to priests I happen upon! It makes my day and I hope it doesn’t intrude too much on theirs! I was on a plane to Kolkata once and there was a Missionary of Charity and I approached her. She was super and gave me one of those glow-in-the-dark rosaries! I still have it!

  14. Mary

    wow. If you had listened to your head instead of your heart, you wouldn’t have run into Father Malain and had that wonderful experience! There are no coincidences, for sure!

  15. LisaJulia

    This is so great! Thank for you sharing, and for the reminder that God is the one in charge…and how important it is to listen to Him.

  16. emily

    I am so happy to read a blog post. It’s like old times! I realize your primary focus is no longer blogging but I don’t have Sirus radio and I miss your posts. An FSSP is awesome. A friend of mine was ordained last year and is now is Mexico with the FSSP.

  17. Veronica

    I agree with the other comments, I really miss reading your blog! I don’t have Sirius radio (not surprising, since I’m not much of a radio listener), but you definitely made my day. Not to put even more pressure on you, just saying how much I love reading about you.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing such a wonderful experience, there are no coincidences, just God-incidences. 🙂

  18. Joy

    Wait, what? Another book?? So excited! I’m also looking forward to the new website design!
    This is a great post! It’s so wonderful when God shows us all the “little” ways He’s caring for us! 🙂

  19. Veronica

    Thank you for sharing, it was a much needed lesson for me!

  20. Janice

    That is indeed an unexpected surprise, but a very good one! How awesome to get a free blessing! And in Latin, no less! (not that it’s more potent or anything, but it is cooler)

    And kudos to you for having the strength of will to not answer all those emails and leave it to God. I feel like that sometimes, overwhelmed with everything I have to do, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m not letting God handle more things that I should let him do. After all, he is greater than me, so why should I feel like I’m the only one who can get things done around here? I suppose the hard part is that God works in mysterious ways, differently than what we can do, so it’s all just a leap of faith and trust that your life won’t fall apart because you didn’t do something you thought you needed to do. Am I making sense?

    Anyway, thanks for this post. I think I needed it today. 😉 Blessings.

  21. heather

    This is so awesome. I love these little moments when you are told not-so-subtly “you’re on the right track!”

  22. Ari

    YAY! You can still blog! Good story, and you’ve been missed on the blog-o-sphere.

  23. Giarose

    I hope we see you at the Cathedral on Sunday, Jen!! If you thought a blessing in Latin was awesome, you really need to come to a Solemn High Mass!! 🙂

  24. Jessica

    I have missed your blog posts! This was so great to read!

    Can you give a hint as to what your new book is about? (And will it be proof-read by your husband again so he can give his helpful notes like, “This paragraph makes you seem insane”? Never forgot how hard I laughed when you mentioned that . . .)

  25. Claire Rebecca

    The FSSP administers my parish! They are wonderful!

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